October 29, 2020

Dear Colleagues,
We are in the midst of eight days of early voting here in Maryland for the 2020 federal election. With an 80% reduction in polling locations, the Xfinity Center is the largest of the 11 early voting centers in Prince George's County. Polling hours are from 7am-8pm, and we can expect increasing numbers of outside visitors to the campus, as well as candidate advocacy signage and other election-related activity between now and Election Day. Campus security personnel will be monitoring the area, and election volunteers will be assisting by providing masks and managing social distancing in voter queues, if needed. More information is available at umd.edu/election-2020.
We are all aware that this is an election like no other in our nation's history, and the outcome has the potential to cause distress in our divided nation. I want to once again ask that you be aware of possibly increased stress among our students associated with the election, and draw your attention to some resources that may be helpful in discussions with your students about election-related issues. The UMD election portal includes resources for faculty, staff, and students, and a schedule of events and opportunities that may be helpful leading up to the election and afterwards. In the event of an uncertain election outcome or disruptive events in its aftermath, students may wish to use class time to express their concerns and anxieties.
While it is appropriate to acknowledge the stresses that many students are experiencing, please remember that, no matter what the election outcome, in-class discussions and lectures should remain focused on appropriate academic material as much as possible. If you discuss the election, please be respectful and courteous to students who may not share your views and be prepared to facilitate a potentially challenging dialogue. I am providing a resource originally prepared by the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center after the election in 2016 offering guidance on sensitive topics that many people have found to be helpful in having such discussions.
Thank you for all the good work that has made possible a productive and safe fall semester for our Terrapin community - in spite of the many challenges we are facing.
With gratitude and respect,
Mary Ann Rankin
Senior Vice President and Provost
The Flagship Institution of the State of Maryland
College Park MD 20742-5035, USA
Phone: 301.405.1000