Dear AU Community,
One of AU’s defining characteristics is our community’s passion for shaping the future. There is no greater opportunity to impact that future than voting, whether you go to the polls on Election Day, vote early, or vote by mail. Today, I want to share some thoughts about the upcoming election and provide a few COVID-19 updates as we head into the fall semester’s closing weeks.
Tomorrow is the culmination of one of the country’s most important traditions and a momentous event that helps define our nation. Voting is the foundation of our democracy. We made Election Day a university holiday so our students, faculty, and staff can engage and make their voices heard.
While we do not know what the outcome of the 2020 election will be, and passions across the country are high, we must always remember the core values of our democracy, even if we sometimes struggle to live up to them. Our democracy works best when the opportunities for participation are widely available and easily accessed. It thrives when we participate vigorously in a civic discourse that is peaceful, fact-based, and respectful of those with different views.
No matter the results of the election, our nation has much to do in the days and years ahead. We face enormous challenges, from the pandemic to economic uncertainty to racial injustice. The hard work of a functioning democracy must also be a priority. That means thoughtfully addressing these issues and working together to find solutions. As a university, we play a key role in this pursuit–we produce knowledge and critical thinking that informs our discourse and prepare the next generation of leaders and citizens who will shepherd our democracy.
There will be strong feelings about the outcome of the election. Seeking to understand and respect others’ feelings will be important to our progress as a nation, as will be staying grounded in the facts and the law. We have the opportunity and obligation to shape where America goes from here, no matter who is elected. We can do that together as a community. I encourage you to check the student activism site, the election-related events and resources from our schools and faculty, and the new post-election resources. This is a moment for AU changemakers, and I look forward to the continued work on behalf our community and communities everywhere.
While we rightly focus on elections this week, the pandemic does not stop. Sadly, we are seeing record daily case counts and extensive outbreaks in many parts of the nation. We must remain vigilant in our commitment to health and safety. Please wear your mask and maintain physical distancing. If you haven’t received your flu shot yet, it is not too late and more important than ever.
With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, we need to be mindful of the challenges and impact of travel. To offer timely travel information to AU community, we ask that students, faculty, and staff update the Office of Global Safety about personal travel plans outside the DC region through a user-friendly form. This information will allow us to provide the latest details on travel restrictions and other public health requirements. Please visit the Personal Travel Notification page for more information and to fill out the form if you are traveling. You can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
As part of our continuing efforts to safely ramp up in-person opportunities on campus, I am pleased to announce that the Cassell Fitness Center will reopen on a limited basis beginning Thursday, November 5. Access to the Cassell Fitness Center is available to current AU students and by appointment only (no walk-ups allowed). Health and safety protocols, including wearing masks, will be in place, and a limited number of visitors will be allowed at any one time. Please read the updated policies and reservation procedures on the website.
Finally, spring registration starts today, beginning with our graduate students and continuing over the next several weeks. Eagle Service has the modalities for our spring classes, including our expanded offering of in-person courses. It is always an exciting time when our students plan another semester of learning and engagement.
It is often difficult to step back and reflect while the pandemic impacts so much of our lives. We are all Zoom-fatigued and struggling with upended lives. But as the nation turns out to vote, we see our democracy in action. As we start to bring more activity to campus, we see our community moving forward. These are welcome and hopeful signs. While we have a long road ahead, acknowledging the positive moments and the opportunities still to come can sustain and energize us.
Be safe and be well.