In light of the 2020 general election dominating the attention of the country for several weeks, some Bradley departments decided to hold a post-election reflection session to have a more in-depth reflection. Students and faculty had an open conversation about the proceedings of the election and how they felt about it.
The Bradley’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning and Division of Student Affairs departments organized the session virtually over Zoom on Nov. 6.
The moderators for the session were Amy Scott, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and Helja Crowe, the executive director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. Alumni members Mariela Jasso and Melissa Dillon helped lead the discussion.
“When [Vice President for Student Affairs] Nathan Thomas emailed me to ask if my department would be interested in being involved in this, I was immediately excited because it is interesting to see people of various backgrounds discuss something that is clearly important to everyone,” Crowe said.
The session began by establishing expectations for the discussion, which involved honoring confidentiality, accepting a lack of closure from the discussion, respecting vulnerabilities, being relational listeners and letting others have a chance to speak.
To gauge how the audience was feeling about the elections, questions were asked through menti.com, where people could log in and submit their answers anonymously.
“Anxiety” was one of the most used words by the attendees and “overwhelmed” followed closely behind.
“The pandemic doubled with the elections can be pretty overwhelming, especially for students in college as most of their viewpoints are being challenged at this time,” Crowe said.
Senior nursing major, Gina Lombardino expressed how the elections created a hostile environment with her friends and family.
“I noticed people were not as open-minded in their decisions and perspectives for this election,” Lombardino said.
Aaron Rapp, a sixth-year senior nursing major, felt that there was not much else to contribute to the electoral process besides voting.
“Admittedly, I did not do much,” Rapp said. “However, I did share helpful posts on social media and checked in with friends and family to make sure they were voting.”
Others were not just worried about results but also the process of voting as well. Some faculty members and students joked about how carefully they tried to draw their signatures while voting, as they were nervous it would not match their original signature.
“Every election, I forget that I signed my name more carefully when I registered,” said Michael Lang, associate professor of mathematics. “The poll workers look at me funny and I have to sign again more carefully.”
The session ended for participants with a sense of calmness around the virtual room and some participants said they were not alone in their feeling of unrest.
“I thought it was really productive and offered a safe space to discuss and voice concerns,” Molly Winistorfer, a junior English major, said. “It felt like the session was a place to heal, in a sense.”