News Staff Writer
The Human Rights Center (HRC) and the Dialogue Zone hosted a virtual forum for the UD community to facilitate discussion regarding the results of the U.S. 2020 Presidential Election and the implications of anti-racism activism Wednesday, Nov. 4.
The forum was hosted by Dr. Paul Morrow, a postdoctoral Fellow at the Human Rights Center. Morrow emphasized how the method of dialogue is a valuable way to seek understanding and gain trust which are especially important in America’s divisive political climate.
Morrow stated that there was record voter turnout in the 2020 Presidential Election on Tuesday, Nov. 3. It made history as the most votes cast in a U.S. election in 120 years. Millions of young people voted in their first presidential election this year.
Chris Devine, Assistant Professor of Political Science, provided an overview of the election results thus far. Biden was gaining momentum and the numbers favored him at this point (the forum took place from 3:30-5:15 p.m. on Wednesday).
Shortly before the forum, Biden had gained Wisconsin and, later in the evening, Biden won Michigan.
Devine explained why counting mail-in votes takes extra time in states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania. There are state laws that do not allow election officials to begin processing mail-in ballots until Election Day.
This process is also slowed down in densely populated areas with lots of voters.
Devine also showed results of exit polling.
He explained that while exit poll results do not paint the full picture, they can provide great insight into the demographic breakdown of voting.
The forum of 40 people broke out into break out rooms to converse in small groups of students, professors and faculty.
This was an opportunity for power structures between students and professors to be broken down and conversation to take place on an equal playing field. People freely discussed opinions to receptive and respectful listeners.
Topics included experiences of voting in person or absentee, first time voting in a presidential election, the importance of voting and the fractured state of the country.
Another topic discussed was ways to extend political advocacy beyond voting.
Engaging in dialogue with others is a powerful way to bridge gaps. Reaching out to congressional leaders and becoming a member of activist organizations are other ways to become more politically involved.
Discussants recognized that anti-racism work at the University of Dayton must continue regardless of the president elected.
It was raised that this election year revealed grave systemic issues in this country that run deeper than one singular leader.
The general consensus from the attendees of this forum is the hope that UD can continue anti-racism work such as holding rallies and promoting dialogue events.
According to the Human Rights Center, the principles for post-election engagement include patience, non-violence, active peacebuilding by developing constructive relationships across boundaries and openness to dialogue. Integrity of information and healing are also key principles.
Post-election advocacy is also important. The Human Rights Center promoted joining the #ShoneontheVote Campaign which calls for a free, fair and transparent election process.
The HRC also supported joining the TRUST Network, a network of international mediation experts that provide training opportunities for peacebuilding and violence intervention.
Future events like this one can be found on the Human Rights Center website: https://udayton.edu/artssciences/ctr/hrc/index.php