1. Election Day has passed. Every vote must be counted.

    November 4, 2020

    To All Members of the Campus Community:

    Every vote must be counted.

    Election Day has passed, but we do not yet know the results of the presidential race and many others on the ballot. That was to be expected, given the high turnout, increased use of absentee ballots, and procedures in many states that do not permit such votes to be counted in advance. Though we will in due course know the official outcome of the presidential election, the uncertainty in the meantime is unsettling for many of us. Please rest assured that there is a well-defined process in each state for completing the vote count and reporting official results. We need to let that play out and trust the integrity of that process to ensure that every vote is properly counted.

    As has been the case throughout this election season and particularly this semester, we have ongoing opportunities to help make sense of the current landscape. Our campus has many engagement events and support activities planned for today and beyond listed on our Democracy and Debate website, including resources for faculty and staff. One event that is particularly timely is a webinar by Law School Professors Samuel Bagenstos and Ellen Katz, titled Certifying the Vote: When Courts Get Involved in Presidential Elections.

    The discourse surrounding Tuesday’s election has been the most contentious in recent memory, as voters throughout our nation were asked to choose 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. 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.

    I applaud the members of our community who engaged in the democratic process by voting and promoting understanding of the many issues and challenges that we face as a society.

    Regardless of the final outcome, U-M will work to advance our mission, support our students and achieve the lasting change for which so many of you have advocated.

    The safety of our university community remains an important focus. The professionals in our Division of Public Safety & Security have been engaged in lengthy planning with campus units and local, state and federal leaders to coordinate safety efforts. Please help us by looking out for one another. If you see something that does not seem right, please say something.

    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. 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.

    I know that the anxieties created by the uncertainties of the pandemic as well as this year’s election are taking a toll on many members of our community. Please take advantage of the support services that are available to our students, faculty and staff. These include:

    • Campus Climate Support:A group of professional staff members provide Campus Climate Support and focus on addressing concerns that may cause harm to members of our community based on their identity. This group works with the community to create and maintain a respectful and welcoming environment for all to live, learn, work and thrive.
    • Managing election stress for students:High-profile elections can present unique stressors, but also offer opportunities to practice important life skills including how to deal with difficult emotions and circumstances. Our Counseling and Psychological Services counseling center encourages regular check-ins to gauge what you are experiencing and develop a self-care plan.
    • The Wolverine Support Network (WSN)is a student-led, peer support program developed by Central Student Government leaders in collaboration with Counseling and Psychological Services.  These groups are available to assist whenever needs or concerns arise. WSN is designed to empower students to create a safe community in support of mental well-being and identity development. The peer-facilitated groups meet weekly and provide a place to discuss day-to-day stressors, build trust, and connect with students from across campus.
    • Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office:This unit provides support and assistance to U-M staff and faculty in resolving personal or work-related concerns. Through a range of sensitive and innovative services, FASCCO seeks to enhance the emotional health, well-being and job performance of U-M employees. Services include confidential and professional counseling, coaching, training and consultation. Consultations are offered by phone, remotely and in person.
    • Michigan Medicine provides several resourcesto help employees maintain their physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. These include free-of-charge and confidential counseling, consultation, coaching and stress debriefing services through the Office of Workplace Resilience to help faculty and staff develop strength and resilience in their personal and professional lives.  They also offer a number of programs designed to help individuals and departments reduce burnout and compassion fatigue, and to foster resilience. The Michigan Medicine Wellness Office prioritizes workplace well-being as a core value and daily practice to improve the lives of everyone we care for – our patients, ourselves, and each other – and to optimize our experience and quality of life at work.

    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. 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.

    Thank you for your commitment to our democracy, our university and the many communities who look to us for meaning and societal impact.

    Sincerely,

    Mark S. Schlissel
    President