Committed to our University and committed to our democracy

November 2, 2020

This message was sent to students, faculty and staff at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Dear Wolf Pack family,

This week the 2020 presidential campaign ends. After mail-in and early voting in Nevada, on Tuesday, our remaining registered voters cast in-person ballots for the President of the United States, vacant seats in Congress, and in Nevada, decide on a number of constitutional amendments and judgeships. Given our new reality of COVID-19, it may take several days before we know the results of the 2020 presidential campaign.

However, we all know that this is hardly another election. Uncertainty, fear, and anxiety have been with us for some time, because of a pandemic, and as a result of intense national trauma. Yet, throughout our history, our profound belief in democracy has taught us that we are at our best when we can come together in defense of our democratic values. For our University community, this is especially true. There is no question that the past few years in our country have proven divisive. Yet, as we await the results of this election, and after those results are confirmed and beyond, if there ever was a moment in recent history to recognize the need to stand firm in support of one another and our different communities, that moment is now. This is the time to come together through our shared values of mutual respect, upright support for our minoritized and vulnerable groups, and, to demonstrate understanding and friendship for any individual who is hurting and has doubts about the future.

How do we do this?

First, as trying as it is during these times, let’s not isolate ourselves, but rather seek out friends, family, and valued colleagues. Also, let’s be clear on the difference between threatening and hurtful rhetoric, as opposed to different ideological and political points of view. The latter are the foundations of democracy—differences—and we need to be able to engage in respectful conversations, or at least be able to listen to different standpoints and life experiences. How can we learn about our country, about the world, if we are not open to histories, perspectives, and life experiences that are different from our own?

Our University community is here to help facilitate this process of understanding, as the presidential campaign draws to a close. Since early October, more than 100 stakeholders in the student voting space have come together to help the members of our Wolf Pack Family in this historic political season. Partnerships are already in place among campus resources such as the Center for Student Engagement, the Counseling Center, The Center. Every Student. Every Story., Residential Life, Young Democrats, College Republicans, ASUN, GSA, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Faculty and Staff Affinity groups and Cultural Diversity Committees, Political Science and Psychology Departments, our colleges and schools, Office of Service Learning and Civic Engagement, Student Services, Provost’s Office, and our community service partners, to help you navigate through this challenging time. Through these partnerships, there are a number of post-election special events we have planned, as well, for our Wolf Pack Family. You can find them on the University’s Events Calendar under the category of “Civic and Service Engagement.”

Although millions of votes are being cast, you can take control of your vote and ensure that it matters. I encourage you to track your ballot, and seek out credible sources of information on voting, such as the Washoe County Registrar of Voters.

As an institution, our strength has always been our ability to engage in civil, rational and respectful dialogue. We are at our strongest when we share the difficult moments together and have the courage to engage in the conversations that can lead to transformative and lasting change. Let us all strive to be caring and understanding and to allow open-mindedness to guide us in the coming days. Be well. Be there for each other.

Sincere regards,

Brian Sandoval