POST-ELECTION CAMPUS RESOURCE AND RESPONSE GUIDE
SLSV Resources and Support Working Group & Ask Every Student
On October 8, over 100 stakeholders in the student voting space came together to ideate around the question “How might we prepare to support campus stakeholders in processing and responding to a tumultuous post-election season?” This document is a synthesis of their ideas for how best to address that challenge. We’ve provided helpful resources that can support you and your community in enacting these ideas.
We’ve posted this again in the document, but the Civic Alliance Post Election Day and Election Day Guide is an exceptional resource for creating messaging before, during and after election day. While this is a resource specifically crafted for the business community, the messages outlined in their Guide transcend sectors.
This is a live document and will be updated with more resources over time.
You can also view the Post Election Resources Webinar that expands on this guide and select resources through the recording, chat log, and link-filled agenda.
Prepare partnerships ahead of time.
You cannot and should not do this work alone, and this work should not rest solely on the shoulders of the folks who have been leading your voter engagement efforts and will likely be burnt out after Election Day.
- Bring campus administration into the conversation. Work with your institution’s administration to prepare strong statements about the importance of equity and inclusivity, express explicit support for marginalized groups, backed by actionable steps to strengthen all units of the institution.
- Work with various departments across the division and university to offer programs that share different perspectives related to areas of student concern. (Counseling Center, Center for Trans and Queer Advocacy, Center for Women and Gender Equity, Wellness, etc.)
- Partner with your wellness/counseling center now. Do be mindful that they may already be preparing to support students and may have a lot on their plates. Collaborate on creating a post-election plan that can meet everyone’s needs.
- Work with staff and faculty centers, caucuses or organizations to plan a space and structure to support staff and faculty in processing their own emotions and preparing to hold dialogue with students.
- Train student leaders to address concerns/fears specifically in regards to the election/post-election and make sure they know where they can direct their peers for additional support. Some of the groups to connect with include resident advisors, fraternity and sorority life leaders, student-athletes, peer mentors, and student activities leadership.
- Work with faculty from political science and psychology departments to provide expertise in their areas around electoral processes and coping mechanisms.
- Collaborate with your local election officials to receive accurate and up to date information about the electoral process and to ensure students' votes are protected and validated. You can also bring in local nonpartisan electoral agencies such as the League of Women Voters into this process as well.
- If possible, compensate professionals to lead processing, healing, and dialogue workshops and spaces.
Instill confidence in election results.
Prepare students now for a prolonged outcome. Due to the high number of mail-in ballots this election, it may take days if not weeks in some places to process election results. Message to students that taking the time to count votes will result in a fair election.
- Include this messaging in campus communications. Ensure that higher administrators like the President, Provost, or Dean of Students share this messaging before and after election day.
- Encourage students to follow up on their ballot’s status and ensure their vote gets counted. Promote ballot tracking for applicable states. Proactively connect students to the Election Protection Hotline if they run into any issues in making sure their vote gets counted.
- Elevate credible sources of information. Look to your local elections officials for information and updates on election results.
- Help students identify misinformation and disinformation. Remind them to always fact check sources and that news sources may not be a reliable source when it comes to election results.
- Make sure to share local elections’ results as they come in! By focusing on local results that we do know, we can redirect anxious energy and instill confidence in results.
- Be prepared to explain the legal or political options and reality of an unpeaceful transition or a delayed election result. Make sure to frame this as something that could happen, but isn’t a given. If possible, bring in political science faculty to explain the electoral process to students and answer any questions.
- Help students learn about the electoral college process. Understanding helps demystify the process. The Civic Alliance and National Taskforce on Election Crises resources below include educational materials about the timeline of the Electoral College. Note that the 1887 Electoral Count Act requires all states to have all ballots counted by 41 days post the election, so regardless the people will know results by mid-December.
Allow time and space for processing.
It’s important that all campus community members (not just students!) have the space to process the outcomes of the election before having to engage in potentially difficult dialogue. The results of the election will impact campus community members differently. Processing can take place individually, one-on-one, in small groups, or collectively.
- Create safe spaces in classrooms, social spaces, clubs, etc. for students to openly process information. But don't make this required! Some students may not want to openly process with others.
- Providing safe processing spaces for students to come and talk with trusted staff/faculty about their feelings.
- Don't try and "fix" students' anxiety, but provide spaces where students can hold the tension and discomfort. Let them know it’s OK for them to feel the way that they do.
- Release the power from yourself and present yourself as an ally, friend, support or whatever that student feels is appropriate.
- Make affinity spaces available facilitated by staff from Counseling Center and those trained in DEI and trauma-informed care if possible.
- Utilize breakout rooms that provide multiple types of "brave" spaces: building resilience, healing, organizing.
- Ask people “What are your hopes and dreams going forward from this point?” This question helps keep people on a constructive path.
Facilitate opportunities for healing.
Many campus community members may need access to mental health resources during this time. Be intentional about creating spaces and opportunities for healing. Partnering with counseling and wellness centers and psychology faculty especially helps for this.
- Prepare and provide a resource guide for on campus and off campus mental health resources, including resiliency and anxiety management resources.
- Create a pre-election and post-election virtual panel or workshop on coping mechanisms and healing processes.
- If possible, ensure that all campus community members have access to free resources through counseling centers, especially on November 4.
- Make sure student and campus leaders know how to access mental health resources that they can direct students to. Suggest that individuals confer with campus HR or Insurance policies to be directed to mental health services.
- Plan de-stressing activities like yoga and meditation.
Hold spaces for dialogue and verbal expression.
Faculty, staff, and student leaders will end up facilitating difficult yet sensitive conversations with students after the election. While you shouldn’t mandate that every faculty or staff member needs to have these conversations, as many aren't equipped to, you should still set them up for success.
- Provide training in advance in methods of dialogue, questions of curiosity, and productive discussion.
- Faculty/staff should have their own space to process the results, allowing for them to meet the needs of students in a better headspace. (This was mentioned above, but is incredibly important!)
- Make sure there are representative voices that feel encouraged to lead or facilitate discussions.
- Establish clear guidelines, boundaries and purpose setting to frame challenging discussions. Allow people to speak from their own point of view without making assumptions about others. Clearly communicate why it is necessary and why it impacts every class, student, etc., no matter personal options.
- Have discussions with an equity lens that values each student's perspective.
- Encourage faculty and staff to let students take the lead in the conversations, and ensure that their voices are heard. Students don't need a lecture about elections or their feelings on November 4.
- Be honest that this election is more than politics- it's about values, too. Prepare to navigate conversations outside of simply a “political” framework.
- Keep the conversations nonpartisan, while still providing students a chance to exchange ideas, perspectives, and experiences.
- Hold “Ask Me Anything”s to allow students to ask questions or express their perspectives. Be sure to include a content/trigger warning.
- Make sure that professors and staff are also modeling dialogue and tension in productive, respectful ways publicly.
Move towards action.
Always make sure to provide opportunities for civic action, not just discussion. Prepare tangible actions that students can take to stay engaged and prepare to support student activists.
- Provide opportunities of action for after the election. Civic engagement did not end with their vote. Give productive strategies for dealing with concerns - letter writing campaigns, organizations to work with, how to contact their elected officials, how to lobby elected officials, how to safely protest, volunteer, and use creative expression.
- Redirect energy towards supporting the local community. Highlight civic actions that students can plug into, like volunteering in the community and joining local organizations.
- Help students make a plan for their next steps. How are you staying engaged tomorrow? Next week? Next month? In the next year? How are you taking time to pause, heal and reflect?
- Get creative. Create space for campus community members to take part in creative actions, such as an open mic, creative and expressive writing opportunities, and spaces for artistic response.
- Check out volunteer opportunities with Election Protection! Plug into work to help ensure this election is fair and ends in a just outcome. Many states plan to have volunteers monitoring the canvassing and counting of ballots (and engaging in ballot curing where possible).
- Prepare for student activism and potential conflict. There’s a number of scenarios that could arise that may end in conflict. Be intentional about encouraging student participation while maintaining a safe and inclusive campus environment.
Questions, thoughts, suggestions? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a live document and will be updated with more resources over time.