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In the Spotlight
October 29, 2020

Thoughts on the Election and SFC's Mission

On the cusp of the Presidential Election, I would like to share some thoughts on our civic and moral responsibility in this moment and how it reinforces St. Francis College's mission.

It is critically important that all those eligible to vote do so. If you haven't already, make your voting plan today. You can vote early, vote by mail, or vote on November 3rd, Election Day. I encourage you to visit to make your plan.

Traditionally, most young people do not participate in elections. That is a tremendous loss to our democracy and, in some fundamental sense, neglectful of our civic duty and privilege.

I always recall my mother, who became a United States citizen after leaving her homeland, tell me that "voting is a duty. I cannot understand why people don't vote when they have an opportunity to do so. I guess," she would tell me, "they haven't experienced a way of life that did not give them the opportunity to vote."

Your voice matters and despite what many incorrectly may believe or say, your vote counts.

St. Francis College has a long, proud tradition of civic engagement, and that has been brought to the forefront right now. As an Election Day polling site, it is our privilege to welcome thousands of our neighbors on campus to cast their ballots. Year-round, we work to foster an environment in which respectful discourse takes place on important issues.

I hope you all join me on Monday, November 2nd at 12:30 pm EST for my conversation with civil rights leader Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League, in this year's Dr. Frank Greene Lecture. After the election, we will have opportunities to reflect and learn, including at the Post-Election Interfaith Prayer Service for Peace that will take place online on Monday, November 9th at 11:30 am.

Our Terrier family is bound by long-standing values that do not waver, no matter who is in the White House or who is walking the halls of Congress. Our Franciscan tradition invites us to be guided by the teachings of the Gospel as we engage with political, social, economic and environmental issues. This means, in part, listening with compassion and kindness, voting with a well-formed conscience, and being open to, and accepting of, the outcome of the election with no malice or acts of violence but rather with goodwill, collegiality and with peace in our hearts.

Compassion is what our planet needs. We are called to respect and honor the dignity of all humans as we work for the common good of our earth and humanity. As Franciscans we are called to serve. We serve through our example of honesty, integrity and love as we continue to build bridges, promote peace and collaborate with one another.

St. Francis College's heritage of promoting equity and inclusion has been the foundation of our institution since the Franciscan Brothers established it over 160 years ago. I know that this will remain firmly intact on November 4th, January 20th and every other day. We remain steadfast in our commitment to nurture a diverse community that continues to consider, contemplate and engage with the issues of the day.

I know that the months leading up to this election have taken an emotional toll on many of us, particularly as we navigate through this pandemic. Yet when we look around, we can recognize that it has also been a time filled with courage, bravery, empathy, tenderness and grace. Be kind. Be kind to one another. Be kind, most especially, to yourselves.

And, I would also urge each of us to put in perspective what we are experiencing. As I often say, the United States remains one of the greatest democratic experiments the world has witnessed. To be a part of this history is a privilege, a privilege that brings with it incredible responsibility. When one thinks of those who sacrificed a great deal to get the right to vote, whether freed slaves, civil rights activists or women during the women's suffrage movement, we should always strive, following Martin Luther King Jr., to ensure that the arch of the universe does, in fact, bend towards justice. Doing our small part by being civically engaged demonstrates that we don't take our democracy for granted.

If you feel that you need support, mentally, emotionally or spiritually please do not hesitate to reach out. Mental health professionals are available through our Student Health Services. Members of the Office of Mission, Ministry & Interfaith Dialogue are also available.

Thank you to those who have been engaged in this election and continue to make your voices heard. Our SFC community will continue to serve as a distinct and diverse tapestry of peace and all good things.

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