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Dr. Joseph Savoie -- Wed, 10/28/2020 - 4:36pm

Dear students, faculty and staff members,

Election Day is this Tuesday, Nov. 3. Every four years, American voters hold in their hands the most sacred and precious responsibility a democracy affords – a ballot.

If you took advantage of early voting opportunities, thank you. If your plan is to vote in person on Tuesday, please do so. The University will announce soon what it’s doing to ensure you have time to make your voice heard and your vote count.

This election, like all elections, is not about the next four years alone. The scope of that responsibility to future generations inspires emotions across the political spectrum. Passion about what this profound civic duty represents is good and expected – but it must be balanced with civility.

As a University, it is our responsibility to model principles of respect and understanding. We are committed to the free, safe and lawful expression of ideas because open dialogue is fundamental to our academic mission.

As Election Day approaches, and in the days following, I want to encourage you to express your opinions and your reactions with tolerance and respect. Please:

  • Listen patiently and with an open mind, especially when you disagree.
  • Seek areas of mutual agreement.
  • Communicate views without exaggeration or name-calling.
  • Offer kindness, even when confronted with discourtesy.
  • Question broad characterizations and be mindful of misinformation, especially on social media.
  • Remain calm, and if you are anxious, remember resources such as in-person and telehealth counseling sessions are available to you.

Finally – and emphatically: Though we recognize that tensions surrounding an election are natural, we cannot allow them to affect the health and safety of our University family.

So, while the University supports the First Amendment rights of members of its community to free expression and assembly, those rights are not without responsibilities and consequences, which are outlined in the Campus Free Speech Policy.

Free speech is at the heart of higher education, just as voting is at the core of our democracy.

Casting a vote is a profound statement. It shows that you care about our local, state and national governments as they are today and what you hope they can become. It is your investment in creating the “more perfect union” our Constitution envisions. And, voting honors generations of Americans who fought – and who died – to defend this privilege and to fulfill democracy’s promise.

This year, we’ve experienced hurricanes, a pandemic, and economic and social uncertainty. And, I’m sure there have been moments when it seemed little was within our control as individuals.

Well, your vote is something you can control. Your ballot – and our collective future – is in your hands.

Geaux vote, Ragin’ Cajuns!

Dr. Joseph Savoie