A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Election Day: An Opportunity for Citizenship

Dear SAIC Community, It’s Election Day in the United States. That means some of us can vote today, if we haven’t already, and many of us are anxious. We are nervous about the outcome, worried that we won’t have results quickly, and concerned what impact the election will have. In this message, I want to reiterate some information for voters, and I also want to make sure you are aware of programming and resources that can support you through election uncertainty. Regardless of the results of today’s election, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) will remain a place where we welcome a broad range of ideas and support one another in our expressions of self. As a home for aesthetic inquiry, we will always explore ideas, take risks, pursue questions, and appreciate constructive critique. These are some of the ways we practice citizenship. This is not the kind of citizenship that’s about one’s status with a particular country’s government. Practicing citizenship, in this sense, is about how we engage—as artists, designers, and scholars as well as teachers, students, and higher education professionals—every day. Through our work, we connect with one another, share our vision of how things ought to be, and negotiate the world in which we live. So whether or not you are eligible to vote in today’s US election, Election Day is an opportunity for all of us to practice good citizenship by taking care of one another. If you can vote and are voting today, please remember to take precautions by covering your face, maintaining social distance, and practicing hygiene. There are likely to be long lines for voting, so please let your teachers and supervisors know if you will miss class or work. In Illinois, you can register at the same time you vote, if needed. You may refer to this previously sent email to find your polling place and review your ballot. Of course, unprecedented numbers of early votes have already been cast nationwide, which means we might not know the results of the presidential race today. We’ll need to wait for differing states’ vote-counting processes to be completed, and it’s possible that litigation may further delay the outcome. As we bear this uncertainty, we can also find support. I encourage you to seek out the following resources, especially if you are alone while social distancing. A 24-hour, online gathering collaboratively organized by faculty, staff, and students will begin tonight after polls close in Illinois at 7:00 p.m. CT. The event will be a space to connect with one another and feature conversations facilitated by various students, faculty, and staff; short presentations and activities; pauses for emotions; time to breathe; and a program-ending panel discussion beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT tomorrow, Wednesday, November 4. More information can be found here. As always, if you need to talk to someone one on one, resources are available. Students seeking support at any time may contact Counseling Services at 312.499.4271 or counselingservices@saic.edu . Faculty and staff may contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) directly at 800.311.4327. You may also decide to participate in public demonstrations. If you do, please participate in a safe and informed manner. Civil disobedience has played a vital role in democratic societies, and there will be no institutional consequence for lawful participation in protests by our community members, including students. Finally, please review the “What to Expect Election Week” message sent on Friday, which urges everyone to ensure they are receiving campus updates and reminds you of School resources for navigating the downtown area. In closing, I hope everyone will remember that, regardless of the results of today’s election, we will continue to practice good citizenship at SAIC. We’ll continue striving to make a space of belonging for everyone, where citizen artists can establish practices that seek to shape our shared society. Elissa Tenny President