Letter to USC Faculty
Thank you for all the creativity and innovation that you have shown since we went fully online in March. It’s hard to believe we have just a few weeks left in the semester.
I’m writing to you about Tuesday’s election. No matter how it turns out, students in your classes may find it difficult to focus on your subject matter as external events and a barrage of news updates vie for their attention. The results, whenever they come, are likely to generate strong emotions and these could last for many weeks.
I ask for your continued patience and flexibility during this time, and your partnership in prioritizing our students’ well-being. Classes may be extra challenging, especially under the conditions of this unique semester, and I ask that you continue to promote civility and mutual respect, and remain sensitive to student needs.
In response to requests for how to handle potentially difficult political discussions, here are a few tips:
- We can set helpful boundaries for discussion, just as you do in your physical classroom.
- We can also use the tools available in the online environment to ensure a safe space for open discourse.
- We can, of course, disagree with each other in a respectful manner.
- We are committed to academic freedom and free speech, and everyone has the right to be heard but we shouldn’t accept actions that violate our non-discrimination or anti-harassment policies.
- Lastly, be sensitive to the varying reactions your students may have.
We are proud of our passionate, engaged community founded on respect for the rights and dignity of all people. I look forward to navigating the days and weeks ahead together and growing even stronger as a community.
Resources are available if students, staff, or colleagues need them. USC Student Health’s Counseling and Mental Health Services team is holding election stress workshops twice a week online through mid-November. Private, anonymous reports can be made to Trojans Care 4 Trojans (TC4T) if you have concerns about students, staff or faculty. The Center for Work and Family Life offers support for faculty and staff, including an online session November 5 titled “Overcoming Election Stress Disorder.”
Charles F. Zukoski
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
cc: Office of the President
President’s Senior Leadership Team
Provost’s Leadership Team