Administrators, faculty reach out to students after stunning election

Allyson Chiu and Yvonne Kim

In the wake of Tuesday’s unexpected election results, the University is taking measures to accommodate students’ needs by offering “healing spaces” and academic flexibility.

“Partisan, inflammatory statements unfortunately seem to be part of modern campaign rhetoric, but they cause real wounds,” said Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president for student affairs, in an email to students Wednesday afternoon. “As we move beyond a divisive election, we therefore recognize the need for healing of those wounds.”

Telles-Irvin’s message followed an email from University President Morton Schapiro which analogized the national election results to Northwestern’s own history facing “daunting issues” and undergoing “significant transformations.” Schapiro urged the Northwestern community to not let varying beliefs divide it.

Telles-Irvin echoed Schapiro on the election’s divisiveness, informing students of locations on campus that would provide resources, such as the Black House, Multicultural Center and Scott Hall. Neither email mentioned Donald Trump by name.

SESP Student Affairs, which was one of various resources for students feeling unsafe or marginalized, announced in an email, “Our doors are open as a healing space for all students, staff, and faculty who need it today, tomorrow, and beyond.”

“Probably one of the best, if not the best, parts about my Northwestern experience is that I just feel incredibly supported,” said Imani Wilson, a work-study student in the SESP Student Affairs office. “On any given day I can walk into the office and talk to one of my advisers about whatever’s on my mind.”

The SESP junior said her school in particular “goes above and beyond” to support its students and expressed hope for other organizations to provide similar spaces.

“There are a lot of groups on campus … just going out of the way and making space for these conversations to happen,” Wilson said. “Students, no matter what they’re involved in on campus, hopefully are aware of or are comfortable going to one of the different spaces that there are.”

Telles-Irvin said staff members from Campus Inclusion & Community would be present throughout campus Wednesday to provide support for students, and Associated Student Government reached out to students directly by organizing a post-election gathering in Norris University Center on Wednesday night.

Some faculty members also went out of their way to support students.

English Prof. Shaundra Myers replaced her classes with open office hours where students could come to either discuss classwork or the election.

“This is not something I would ordinarily do, but I thought today called for us to do something different and not go about business as usual,” Myers said. “It was a means to offer an intimate supportive space that sometimes the classroom is not.”

In addition to providing safe spaces for students outside the classroom, professors such as McCormick Prof. Suzanne Olds altered their plans for classes.

Olds said she had scheduled a midterm for Wednesday, but received emails from students Tuesday night expressing concern about having to take an exam at 9 the next morning.

After polling students, the majority of which voted to postpone the exam, Olds said she “didn’t feel right” giving an exam when students would likely be tired and distracted.

“I do think being able to accommodate big world events should be part of who we are,” she said. “In the scheme of things, one small midterm doesn’t seem like a big deal in the history that we’re making here.”

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Twitter: @_allysonchiu

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @yvonneekimm