Schlissel urges unity, civility in post-election message


In a post-election message, President Mark Schlissel said the University of Michigan will continue to advance its mission, support students and “achieve the lasting change for which so many of you have advocated,” regardless of final vote tallies.

His Nov. 4 email to the campus community, sent when clear winners had yet to be determined in the presidential race and other contests, also emphasized the importance of ensuring that every vote is counted, and addressed anxieties over the election and coronavirus pandemic.

“We are at our best when we come together to engage and debate civilly across our differences, while always upholding and promoting the values of respect, inclusivity and peaceful expression,” Schlissel wrote. “As members of a public research university community, we can inspire others to interact thoughtfully and challenge the idea that our disagreements are too great for collaborative solutions.”

Schlissel said the discourse surrounding the 2020 election has been the most contentious in recent memory, with voters selecting the U.S. president amid a global pandemic and important reckonings of systemic racism, health care, climate change and voting rights.

“The members of the University of Michigan community have, for generations, sought to lead and create change that betters our society,” Schlissel wrote. “No place is more important for that leadership to take place than at the ballot box.

“Our standing as a top public university depends on our ability to engage and advocate for changes that bring about a more just America, where opportunity exists for all and where knowledge and equity are advanced through teaching, research and service.”

Schlissel encouraged people to “trust the integrity of that process to ensure that every vote is properly counted.”

 He urged students, faculty and staff to take advantage of the many support services available to them. They include:

  • Campus Climate Support — Professional staff members focus on addressing concerns that may cause harm to members of the community based on identity.
  • Counseling and Psychological Services — The counseling center has a web page with strategies students can use to manage election-related stress. The center encourages regular check-ins and the development of a self-care plan.
  • The Wolverine Support Network  — A student-led, peer support program, developed by Central Student Government leaders in collaboration with Counseling and Psychological Services, is designed to empower students to create a safe community in support of mental well-being and identity development.
  • Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office Support and assistance is available to help U-M staff and faculty resolve personal or work-related concerns.

Schlissel also noted that Michigan Medicine provides several resources to help employees maintain their physical, mental and emotional health. They include free and confidential counseling, consultation, coaching and stress debriefing services through the Office of Workplace Resilience. The Michigan Medicine Wellness Office prioritizes workplace well-being as a core value and daily practice. 

As has been the case throughout the election season, U-M has various other ongoing activities to help people make sense of the current landscape. A list of engagement events and support activities, including resources for faculty and staff, can be found on the Democracy and Debate website.

Schlissel said the safety of the university community continues to remain an important focus. The Division of Public Safety & Security has been engaged in lengthy planning with campus units and local, state and federal leaders to coordinate efforts to keep campus safe.

He applauded members of the community who engaged in the democratic process by voting and promoting understanding of the important issues and challenges faced by society.

“The University of Michigan has stood the test of time for more than 200 years, and our activities as a community of scholars continue to provide opportunities to the world’s most talented faculty, researchers, teachers and students,” Schlissel said.

“We are proud to support and nurture the rising generations from all communities from all around the globe while creating an environment where individuals from virtually all disciplines can thrive and pursue their ambitions.”


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