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Election Week programming seeks to support students

November 2, 2020

Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs Janet Lohmann shared the College’s 2020 Election Week events page in an email to all students on Tuesday. The programming, which includes professor-led conversations, yoga and meditation sessions, shuttles to the polls and watch parties on Election Day, post-election drop-in hours and the final installment of the history department’s “1619 Project,” includes 14 events—some in-person and some virtual—between October 27 and November 6.

“I invite you to take advantage of the diverse opportunities to engage safely and intentionally around next week’s historic Election, and to seek support as needed,” Lohmann wrote in the email. “Please note that virtual activities are open to all students, both on-campus and remote, and we will continue to update the Election Week page as relevant.”

Lisa Peterson, director of gender violence education and prevention, was responsible for co-leading two programs—“A Toolkit for Trying Times: Strategies During and Afternoon the Election” on October 27 with Benje Douglas, associate vice president for inclusion and diversity and director of Title IX, and “Student Affairs Virtual Self-Care Hangout” on Tuesday with Career Exploration and Development Executive Director Kristin Brennan and Director of Career Advising Nancy Gibson. Peterson will also be holding drop-in hours on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

“Part of the reason that I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to engage with students in these ways is the complementary skill set of a lot of work that I do in navigating folks with trauma,” Peterson said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “The way that crisis interrupts day-to-day life also translates really well to this particular kind of uncertainty and stress and the emotions it could bring up for people.”

Kate Stern, associate dean of students for inclusion and diversity and director of the Center for Sexuality, Women and Gender, is also hosting virtual drop-in hours after the election. She discussed these sessions, which will all take place over Zoom, as a way for students to have access to the Bowdoin community in the aftermath of the election.

“Whatever outcome there is, Bowdoin students are going to be in very different places for a whole host of different reasons, and we want to be open to students wherever they are,” Stern said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “I’m also very aware that when we host something on Wednesday, we may or may not know what the results are by then, and it might be about the results, [but] it also may be about the uncertainty.”

In addition to drop-in sessions open to all students hosted by individual and group staff members under the Division of Student Affairs, there will also be drop-in sessions hosted by THRIVE (Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. EST and Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. EST), as well as a drop-in session for international students hosted by Khoa Khuong, associate dean of upper class students (Thursday 8:30 to 10 a.m. EST).

While all of these sessions aim to support students in groups, Bowdoin Counseling Services and Assistant Director of Student Wellness Kate Nicholson will be offering one-on-one sessions related to the election all day on Wednesday and Thursday.

In a Zoom interview with the Orient, President Clayton Rose urged students who are eligible to vote to do so, and he also described the election programming as fulfilling two of the College’s goals: facilitating understanding and creating community. He noted that the events led by professors would fulfill the first goal, and he described the other events as fulfilling the second.

“Everyone in this country I think is feeling the anxiety and the stress of this moment, right? You’ve got COVID[-19], you’ve got all the issues around anti-Black racism and racial justice and you’ve got this election that’s the most contentious election we’ve ever had,” Rose said. “Everyone is feeling the weight of this, and we need to lean on one another, so a lot of what Student Activities is planning is ways of providing that support for everyone.”


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