The silver lining of a heightened election season is the opportunity to foster greater civic engagement and awareness of issues. It’s a moment for us to be thoughtful. When on Wheeler’s campus and in our classrooms, we expect that our conversations will be thoughtful, curious, respectful, and engaged. The faculty and staff on the Strategic Initiatives Council* have developed the following guiding north stars and guidelines that every adult and student on our campus is expected to follow.
Engaging in a conversation of political issues and about local and national elections is both an intellectual act and one that can have a deeply personal, sometimes existential, impact on members of the community.
These conversations are best when curiosity is their basis and assumptions and judgment are suspended.
Disagreement is inevitable and can be productive as long as ideas - supported by facts from reliable sources - are attacked and not the people who express them. The expression of multiple political viewpoints is encouraged.
All conversations require a sense of one’s own socially significant identities and how they can impact your point of view.
In these conversations, participants need to explain their positions, rather than just stating their positions. This standard requires time for listening and reflection and space for developing one’s own beliefs and identifying and learning from mistakes.
Though we respect the right to free expression, political advertisements and slogans can interfere with a safe and comfortable learning environment. Some slogans in particular have caused significant negative impacts upon members of our community. While on campus and in our online classrooms including our online avatars (e.g. zoom), we will not advertise political candidates or display their slogans. This is consistent with our dress code policy concerning distracting advertisements.
We will accept that at times, repeating the language of a politician can impact others negatively or create fear and we will bring this awareness to discussions with friends and classmates.