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OPINION: Did you see that debate?

October 2, 2020

This piece represents the opinion of the Bowdoin Orient Editorial Board.

During Tuesday’s debate, we watched the country divide further as our nation’s political future devolved into images of chaos. The next four weeks will only hurtle us further into this uncertainty as the election grows near.

This is not a time to bury our heads in the sand. As the President boasts of legions of armed supporters, questions the legitimacy of our election, and hints at a non-peaceful transfer of power this is a time to stand up and engage with our delicate democracy—to work for it, and to try and save it from current leaders who work to undermine it.

As students, we have a responsibility, particularly those of us in positions of privilege, to challenge, revise and fight for democratic rights. Political engagement takes time and energy, and we should devote the proper attention to it.

As the election draws closer, our active involvement in the political climate will increase. We will stay up late watching debates. Many of us will be canvassing, phone banking and registering voters. We will be glued to our screens on election night. We may not come out of our comatose state until a result is determined, potentially several days (or weeks) after the ballots are cast.

But what happens the next day? The next week? We will all process the results differently. Depending on what happens, many might be happy, sad and confused. Some will be unable to comprehend what happened. Others may remain detached.

To our professors: this is an emotional election, for us and you, and the issues at stake are deeply personal. No one should be exempt from these conversations, even (and perhaps especially) those who are privileged enough to feel that they are not affected. Consider how you will address the subject of the election in your classes. Review your syllabi and check what you have assigned for the weeks surrounding the election. And consider taking a step back and letting students unpack the emotional impact of these unprecedented times. We are scholars, but we are human beings first, and just like you, we will all be processing differently.

You understand the value of political engagement and discourse. We all have to work together on this; to be there for each other in this period of uncertainty. So share your feelings, ask us how we feel, challenge our thinking and contextualize this era of American history in your own disciplines.

It may feel like our actions carry fewer impacts across our smaller circle of in-person peers without the Bowdoin campus serving as an outlet for voter engagement, political activism or discussions with friends, professors and mentors. For those of us not on campus, scattered all across the country, we find ourselves immersed in diverse communities far from the Bowdoin bubble. The different contexts we live in will change how the election affects each of us. But we can still come together as a community and be there for each other.

Professors, we want to discuss the current events that are influencing our lives.We need you to contemplate how this will affect us in the classroom. We need you to make space for us, and we hope to also give you the space that you need.

This editorial represents the majority view of the Orient’s Editorial Board, which is comprised of Sofie Brown, Julia Jennings, Katie King,  Kate Lusignan, Nina McKay, Katherine Pady and Ayub Tahlil. 

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