On October 13, I sent a communication urging you to vote in the upcoming election citing our core value of Civic Engagement as an added inducement to cast your ballot. While I know that many of you have already voted or will soon be voting, the final ballots aren’t tallied until after the polls officially close today.

Four years ago, our nation was in the depths of a divisive political climate and a frightful battle for social justice.  Four years later those same burdens plague us, but this year they are exacerbated by the stress of a worldwide health pandemic and a grim realization that it could be days or even weeks before the results of this year’s elections are finalized.

On this Election Day, I am asking you to observe another one of our core values—Respect. Our core value of Respect expresses that Illinois State University fosters a culture characterized by mutual respect, an open exchange of ideas, and a collaborative approach to problem-solving. This core value relies on faculty, staff, and students acknowledging each other’s right to express differing opinions; and, when disagreeing, remaining mindful of our responsibility of respect. 

We must strive to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion and celebrate its vital importance to the Illinois State University community. In order to live our values, we must appreciate and respect our differences and learn from them; celebrate our achievements; and care about one another. I have faith in our potential to do all of these things.

Four years ago, I asked you to treat each other with respect—to look out for the health, safety, and well-being of your roommates, classmates, friends, and colleagues.  This year, we must come together as Redbirds—even when someone’s political views do not match our own.  This year, instead of asking for your help, I am expecting it. 

Reported violations of the Student Code of Conduct or any university policy will be swiftly addressed. Criminal activity will be met with immediate action from university and community police agencies. 

The outcome of this election could be decided quickly, but it may take much longer.  However long it takes, we must handle ourselves in a manner that makes us all Redbird proud.

I have faith in our ability to persevere and achieve. We are all invested in the educational enterprise called Illinois State University. It is through education that we will change and be changed.

Meanwhile, please remember to follow all protocols demanded by our coronavirus pandemic, such as wearing face coverings, physical distancing, hand washing, and regularly reviewing our COVID-19 webpage. 

As we enter the homestretch of the Fall 2020 semester, let us remember that we are in this together and together we will succeed.