Dear Saint Mary’s Community,
Our country’s national election will take place one week from today. Whether you have already voted by mail or in person, are planning to do so soon, or are waiting for election day to visit your polling place, I encourage you to make your voice heard. For many of our undergraduate students, this is the first of many elections you will participate in throughout your life. Each vote cast is a significant moment and an exercise of our rights in a democratic society.
Political seasons are always long and present topics of considerable importance for discussion and debate. The effects of COVID-19 and so much more has made this an election season like no other. Increased engagement with social and other media in our 24-7 world of news can create information overload. More impassioned levels of communication can create stress and anxiety, regardless of one’s political position and whether you are engaged in the process or apolitical.
The tension resulting from all that will have transpired before Nov. 3, which many have experienced, will not end after election day. While we do not know what the outcome will be or when the official results will be known, we do know the news coverage and commentary will continue, and sometimes with great intensity. So, what do we do? I suggest we continue to do what we have done all fall at Saint Mary’s — stay focused, strong, resilient, and faithful.
I am proud of our students on all three of our campuses. In Winona, the presidents of the College Democrats and College Republicans, along with Student Senate leadership, have worked collaboratively for weeks to register fellow students, advocate for engagement, and provide resources for those who want to learn more about the political process. Dr. Brian Schmisek, provost and dean of Faculties, and Dr. Tim Gossen, vice president of Student Affairs, along with many faculty and administrators, have successfully implemented several events including: pre-debate discussions on civil discourse; the Hendrickson Institute presentation by His Excellency, the Most Rev. John M. Quinn, DD, bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester titled, “Catholic Principles for Voting in the Upcoming Election;” and last week’s event: “Civic Virtues in the Classroom,” attended by faculty and staff.
No matter the outcome of the election, I am confident that Saint Mary’s will continue to model civil discourse, always search for common ground, and join in positive action in service of community engagement.
Finally, I ask you to please join me in a Prayer for Civility for our politicians and our nation.
May God’s peace and blessings be upon us.