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K-State Today

October 29, 2020

Civic discourse essential to our democracy

Submitted by Richard Myers and Chuck Taber

Dear K-State community: 

Next week will see the end of a long and intense election cycle. We encourage all who are eligible to vote and participate in this essential democratic process. Engaging in our elections is our right as citizens, helps reinforce citizenship and makes us stronger as a nation. 

Not everyone's preferred candidates will be elected, and how we react to these results says a lot about our shared values. This year we have heard concerns expressed about the polarizing rhetoric and the possibility of civil unrest in the days ahead. The United States has a long history of peaceful elections and transitions — it is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. As a university community, we believe in civil discourse and dialogue while standing against violence as a form of political expression. 

Given the record number of absentee and early voters, we will need to have patience until final results are announced. While those in the media and others will likely rush to declare a winner, the outcome may change once all votes are tallied. An important principle is that all votes count, including those that have not yet been tabulated at the end of election day. 

There are many responsible ways to respond to the results of any election. We have the right to peacefully assemble and the right to free speech. Within these rights, conflicting voices may be heard in a manner that moves our society forward in positive ways. 

Kansas State University's Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy encourages participation in democratic processes through deliberation and dialogue. The institute offers resources to help us become more informed citizens. The experience of listening to other voices and contributing one's own to a public issue is a foundation of democratic engagement. Please consider following the institute's principles of civic discourse: 

  • Seek understanding and common ground.
  • Expect and explore conflicting viewpoints.
  • Give everyone the opportunity to speak.
  • Listen respectfully and thoughtfully.
  • Offer and examine support for claims.
  • Appreciate communication differences.
  • Stay focused on issues.
  • Respect time limits. 

Many resources are available to support members of our university community who may be affected by current events, including the rhetoric surrounding the election. The Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs Office offers student support spaces both virtually and in person through Nov. 13. These spaces are open to any student desiring to connect with a professional staff member during these difficult times. Students are also encouraged to reach out to Counseling Services for assistance. Difficult conversations may also occur in the classroom. Faculty can consult the Faculty Guide for Difficult Conversations as a resource for engaging in such conversations as well as other resources available through the Teaching and Learning Center.

This is a time for our community to rally and support each other in a civil and respectful manner. 


Richard B. Myers

Chuck Taber
Provost and Executive Vice President

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