One Month Later: Students and Faculty React to 2020 Presidential Election

Former Vice President Joe Biden and current President Donald Trump faced off in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election on Tuesday, November 3. Andover provided a range of informational resources prior to the election and hosted the Presidential Election Speaker Series, which invited experts to discuss issues relating to electoral politics. 

On election night, resources across campus including Community and Multicultural Development, the Brace Center for Gender Studies, the chaplaincy, and the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center held meetings to support students. After days of stalled vote counts, the Associated Press called the election for Biden on November 7. Since then, the Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in several states alleging voter fraud and irregularity. Each state has certified its election results, and the Electoral College will meet on December 14 to elect the next president. 

More than one month since the election, several students and faculty now reflect on that night and its aftermath. 

Sophie Glaser ’22 

I wish Andover had acknowledged the emotional strain of the election a bit more and had instructed teachers to give homework accordingly. I know especially that many students felt overwhelmed and the administration wasn’t doing enough to acknowledge the moment we were in and how that was affecting mental health on a schoolwide level. I did appreciate the election-day programming and speakers they brought in, and enjoyed going to those talks.

Flavia Vidal, Instructor in English and Director of the Brace Center for Gender Studies 

I think giving options during these times is so important because different students will connect with different spaces on campus and with different adults and peers on campus, so the variety of options and times were important. We are in a very unusual school year, and time zones make a difference. Of course, many students in the fall were on campus, but many were not and in different time zones, so this idea that we had many different options for student support and for spaces for conversation and process, I think, was really important.

Kenichi Fujiwara ’22

While personally I tend to stay quiet on politics in general, a lot of people tend to be quite vocal. Thus, it was quite shocking and sad to see many people attacking one another for their political views, without even trying to understand why they hold their positions.

Something my friends were quite disappointed at was how assignments weren’t put off by a week. We heard from other schools that all major assignments were postponed during election week and expected Andover to do the same.

Jennifer Elliott ‘94, Assistant Head of School for Residential Life and Dean of Students

It has been a challenging and stressful fall for so many reasons. I hope that students felt supported during the stretch surrounding the election… I think we want to continually improve our efforts to identify and respond to student needs. I hope that we will be able to engage in more in-person exchange, debate, and dialogue with our next election.

Audrey Sun ’23

I was relieved when I found out the result of the election, but in the days leading up to [November 7], it felt more and more pressuring. This election felt like it kind of took over my thoughts and topics of conversation for many months leading up until now—maybe because I’m older and more invested this time—but especially in social media and other platforms. It’s also encouraged me to educate myself more about current events.

Corrie Martin, Instructor in English

Many celebrate this year’s presidential election results, or at least allow themselves to feel a certain sense of relief. But, even though a record-breaking 81-plus million voters—7 million more than those who voted for the status quo—cast legitimate ballots for our new president, I still feel as if I am “holding my breath.” So much damage needs to be addressed, undone, repaired.

Aidan Pretti ’21

Personally, I am at least glad to see that the aftermath has been largely peaceful, though controversial. Oddly enough, it seems as if the two Senate races in Georgia might end up being more important than election day. As far as Andover’s response to the election, it certainly doesn’t seem as dramatic as what I’ve heard about 2016, but I think they have provided adequate resources for students, and I applaud their efforts at political diversity in the Election Speaker Series.

Keri Lambert, Instructor in History and Social Science

I hope teachers at Andover and beyond keep in mind that students are going to bring to their classrooms a variety of different viewpoints and must support ways for students to learn how to discuss challenging topics with evidence in a historical setting, and in a respectful way that allows students to better understand viewpoints that are different from their own, and allow students to challenge viewpoints that are different from their own and wrestle with them. That’s a really hard environment to cultivate in a classroom, especially in an online setting.

Joshua Fry ’21 

In terms of the immediate aftermath from now till the inauguration, what we’re seeing is a pretty consistent trend of Trump or Trump’s people trying to cast doubt on results from certain angles, and those angles get brought to court and thrown out pretty consistently… I think that barring some massive surprise, which we could only hope doesn’t occur, I think you’re going to keep seeing this happen. Meanwhile, Trump’s slow retreat from public life and slow disappearance from interviews and media is a sign he knows that too, even if he puts up a mask that he doesn’t.

Mary Kantor, Roman Catholic Chaplain

The offerings right before and on the day of the elections didn’t get much response, but the broader program for support from the Catholic Chaplaincy (Sunday worship and the Midweek Meditations that were added before the election week) have been well attended and have brought students and faculty out every week for these Zoom events. We continue to be in a stressful time and I’ve heard from students that they appreciate this consistency of having groups and meditation/prayer available every week. I believe each of the chaplains has this weekly programming/gathering for clubs/prayer/meditation.

Michael Swarttz, Jewish Chaplain

No one showed up to any of the prayer or support sessions that I was on. While I haven’t heard, I wonder if there was more of a response for sessions offered by other departments, such as the counseling center. I’m still very glad we provided those opportunities, and I was very impressed by the support structure that the school offered.