University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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Elections and Our Values

October 28, 2020 1:02 PM

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,

We are just a few days from an election that will help determine the next chapter in the governance in our local community, state and nation. Whatever the outcomes of this election, the deep divisions and differing perspectives we have seen will not simply disappear. But elections do offer an opportunity to step back, recalibrate and get a fresh start in finding common ground on issues that matter to every single one of us. Elections do not alter our respect for one another and human dignity that guides us here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And academic freedom and freedom of expression are core values.

Whether in the classroom, through scholarly exploration, on the floor of our Academic Senate, in the meetings of our student government or just walking the Quad – the free and open exchange of ideas and information is necessary for the advancement of democracy, the creation of new knowledge and the catalyst of discovery and innovation.

And it is the great diversity of our community that provides the perspectives, talents and life experiences that fuel our creativity and advance the deep, critical thinking that have established Illinois as a global educational leader. Our excellence is found in our success in creating a university that is welcoming to all people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, political affiliation or socioeconomic background.

It is not uncommon for someone to express an idea that may anger, offend and even frighten us. And in these turbulent times, it is even easier to find a contentious topic to spark intense disagreement. But provocation does not necessarily advance a conversation toward common ground or to a shared solution. Our personal free expression need not diminish others.

We have an opportunity on Tuesday, Nov. 3 to deliver the most powerful personal expression offered to us in this country. All of our voices are equally loud and equally empowered when it comes to casting our ballots.

If you are eligible to vote in this election, we encourage you to exercise that right and make your voice heard on the issues that matter most to you. Early voting sites are now open on campus at the ARC, in the Illini Union and the University YMCA. All eligible voters can vote early and can vote at ANY of the early voting locations. You can find more information about hours and locations or to find your Election Day polling location by visiting this website. And please remember, the State of Illinois has designated Tuesday, Nov. 3 an official state holiday this year. Like other state holidays, the university will not hold any classes on that day. More information about the holiday operations can be found here.

We are at our best when we engage in dialogue that encompasses the widest range of views and voices. We will not and need not agree on every issue. We can, and should feel free to dispute, debate and challenge ideas and opinions as we choose. But we can always decide to do so in ways that preserve human dignity and recognize the lived experiences of others.

Disagreement and respect for those who disagree with us are not incompatible.

And showing compassion is always a choice we can make.


Robert J. Jones

Barry D. Benson
Vice Chancellor for Advancement

Andreas C. Cangellaris
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost

Sean C. Garrick
Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Susan A. Martinis
Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation

Danita M. B. Young
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs