November 2, 2020

Dear William Paterson Students,

Welcome to November! Just as with the national election, we are in the homestretch of our Fall semester. With just over three weeks to go until Thanksgiving, let’s recommit ourselves to wearing our masks and practicing social distancing, so that we can safely finish our semester on campus. Let’s also think ahead to Thanksgiving and the winter break, when many of us may be seeing grandparents and other relatives and loved ones in high-risk groups. We know that they would do what it takes to keep us safe, so let’s continue the safe practices now, here on campus, that we know will help protect these people and carry them with us wherever the winter break takes us.
Though many of us, including me, have already cast our ballots by mail, tomorrow is, of course, Election Day across the country. This is clearly the most consequential election in modern times, if not in the entire history of our nation, and this has been reflected in a particularly tense mood and record early voter turnout across the country. Typically, the evening of Election Day provides a sense of resolution – whether our candidate wins or loses. We cheer or cry, and then wake up on Wednesday ready to move ahead however the outcome may motivate us. This year, however, election experts warn us to prepare for the possibility of a drawn-out ballot count and contested results. We may well go to sleep tomorrow night – perhaps even for many nights to come – not knowing who will take the Oath of Office on January 20, 2021.
We always hope and advocate for election results that will move us forward as a nation in terms of social and economic justice, prosperity, and America’s place on the world stage. But no matter the results or when they become known, who occupies the White House will not change who we are as individuals and as a community. Whether online or in-person, we will come to our work on Nov. 4 just as we did today, as William Paterson Pioneers; members of an academic community that values mutual respect and diversity and inclusion, and one that advocates for justice and equality for everyone on our campus and beyond. Voting is one of the most powerful ways to express and affirm those values, so if you haven’t already mailed in you ballot, please make plans to locate your polling place and vote tomorrow!
This week’s WPWe are Proud – Your vote is your voice, so I want to recognize those who have helped our students and our whole community use that voice in this year’s election: Professor Mark Ellis, who oversees the American Democracy Project (ADP), and the entire ADP Advisory Committee, with special recognition of; Donna Minnich Spuhler, director of Campus Activities, Service, and Leadership (CASL) and our University liaison for Campus Compact; Maribel Rodriguez, assistant director of CASL; Gary Marks, reference and outreach librarian in the Cheng Library, which is a ADP partner; Professor Steve Shalom; Professor Fanny Lauby; Professor Ryan Rebe; and Tia Cherry in the Dean's Office of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. 
The goal of the project is to produce graduates who are committed to engaging in meaningful actions as democratic citizens. In this hugely consequential election year, ADP has advanced this important mission through a series of lively and informative events, including speakers and workshops. And they are not done. Tomorrow night, they will host a Virtual Election Watch Party, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Click here for more information. A thank you to everyone who has been involved in these events and a reminder – Vote! 
Have a great week.
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD