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A message of patience and unity from the president

November 4, 2020

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Dear Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Community,

As I write to you this morning, the day after the election, it is in celebration of democracy even though we do not have a clear winner. While the entire nation wants to know who won, regardless of your favored candidate, the delay in the result was anticipated due to the extraordinary number of ballots cast by mail because of the pandemic. While we wait for the ballots to be counted, we can celebrate the rights afforded us in a democracy and the record voter turnout across the country. I am proud of our own community, where the level of civic engagement leading up to the election has been outstanding.

Elections officials are hard at work to make sure every eligible vote is verified and counted accurately before officially declaring a winner. Being intentional and meticulous, recognizing every individual vote, signifies democracy in action. That said, waiting for the results requires patience.

The lingering uncertainty can create uneasiness and impact our ability to focus on daily life. This year’s national election may seem highly unusual but our country has faced other elections held during historically challenging times. We have also had several elections where the winner was not determined on election night. Our democratic electoral system is lawful. Our nation and its citizens are resilient and steadfast.

I ask that everyone continue to model behavior that has been evident across our campuses all fall. Civil discourse and civic engagement has been at the center of the efforts of our students in Winona who led a voter registration effort, advancing the aims of a successful democratic process. The Twin Cities Campus was an election polling place, which supported the community and provided a safe location to exercise the right to vote. Faculty and staff led a series of events on civil discourse that offered various ways to discuss political positions, particularly when engaging with someone holding a different viewpoint. Together, we practiced understanding, sensitivity, and consideration in the spirit of unity and dignity. Many thanks to all who made this possible.

As each of us awaits the results, processes the election, and reflects on what positive action we can take in service of our community, I ask you to consider the wisdom of the founder of the Christian Brothers, Saint John Baptist de La Salle, “Do not let anticipation of tomorrow be a burden on the day that is passing. What you lack in the evening, the morrow will bring you, if you know how to hope in God.” May this new day bring each of you God’s grace.

Praying that God’s peace and blessing be upon us and our nation.

Rev. James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D.