Dear Harvard College Parents and Families,
As we head into the final weekend before the U.S. presidential election, I am writing to share a message that will be sent to our students later this afternoon. As you are of course well aware, this year has presented our entire community with an unprecedented set of challenges. An election with such extraordinarily high stakes that has been as contentious as any in recent memory does nothing to alleviate the stress and anxiety that many of us are surely feeling. I felt it was important to share some of the things that have been on my mind recently, as well as some resources that are available to students in the days ahead and beyond. I hope you will find this information useful.
Thank you for your partnership, and I hope you have a pleasant weekend.
Danoff Dean of Harvard College
Dear Harvard College Students,
As we head into the final days before the U.S. presidential election, I wanted to take a moment to share some of the things that have been on my mind during this campaign season.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to be eligible to vote have a civic responsibility to do so, and I hope that every single one of you who can vote will, if you haven’t already. But I also know that casting one vote out of what will likely be well over a hundred million can make you feel as though the outcome is beyond your control. This election, which offers such starkly different visions for our future, may be adding to your stress during an already very difficult time. If you are feeling anxious in these next few days, I hope you will reach out to a tutor, proctor, resident dean, dean, friends, or family. Please see a listing of additional resources and programming available for students and election-related events. Please also reach out to your friends to ask how they are doing, or offer to be a shoulder to lean on (from a safe distance)!
No matter what happens next week, we will have much work to do. Progress is a long-term project. Addressing the inequalities across race, class, and gender, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring equitable access to healthcare, achieving fair housing, and advancing justice requires sustained grassroots activism. I hope you will keep in mind that the work you do to create the world you envision will make a difference, even if you do not see the results as quickly as you would like to. When I think of the historic ruling that the Supreme Court made just a few years ago to affirm the rights of same-sex couples to marry, I think about the countless people who spent years working toward that outcome–the activists who worked tirelessly for decades to move BGLTQ+ rights forward; the brave clergy who welcomed everyone into their communities; and the millions of people whose conversations with friends, family and neighbors helped to move the needle closer to a world of inclusion and understanding. Many of these people did not live to see the fruits of their labor, yet the work they did was essential to the progress that was eventually achieved. They did not give in to despair during moments of disappointment, and neither will we.
Please take care of yourselves.
Danoff Dean of Harvard College