Dear Rice Community,
We are writing to you today about a process that impacts each and every one of us: electing our political leadership. Here at Rice, we are guided by a shared set of values and priorities: the responsibility we have to support and protect our community, to approach our work and each action and decision with compassion and integrity, to reflect and promote our commitment to excellence. This is a momentous year for elections in the United States with global implications; we have an opportunity and, we believe, the obligation to exercise our responsibility as citizens to vote in accordance with our values.
Whatever one’s political affiliations or views, this is a critical time for our nation and our world. Between the Covid-19 pandemic, a national economic downturn and surge of unemployment, issues of discrimination and racial disparities, and recent disasters from West Coast wildfires and gulf hurricanes, this is a difficult time for many. Rice University has a thriving community of international students, scholars and employees who do not have the opportunity to vote in U.S. elections. Your vote thus will affect not only yourself and your own livelihood, but also those who do not share the same franchise.
Just as most of our lived experience has shifted due to the arrival of COVID-19, our voting practices too will have to adapt. For those of you who have not yet registered to vote in Texas, and are qualified and interested in doing so, we urge you to act immediately in order to assure that you receive your registration in time, as the deadline to register is Oct. 5. We recommend you use TurboVote, a resource for which students advocated to facilitate voter registration and absentee ballot requests. TurboVote is available to all Rice faculty, staff and students navigating the election process, regardless of state of residence, and can help you locate your nearest voting location, as election processes vary across the country.
While we cannot control the ways in which our local, state and federal governments approach voting in a pandemic, we can empower our community to vote. This is why we've committed to (1) providing a polling location, at historic Rice Stadium, for both early voting and election day voting on our campus; (2) ensuring that all class material on Election Day is available asynchronously; (3) asking all faculty not to make assignments due the day after election day; and (4) allowing staff flexible time to vote during the work day if necessary. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of early voting beginning Oct. 13. Early voting provides the greatest flexibility, extended time period and perhaps safety during this pandemic.
Prior to voting this November, know that several Rice-driven voter engagement efforts are happening. One example is the Houston Youth Voter's Conference, a Rice student-driven initiative to empower Houston's youth to engage civically by voting. In addition, the Multi-Cultural Center is offering election-focused panels to which all members of the Rice community are invited to participate. Finally, you may also find a variety of events and information on voting and at ricevotes.rice.edu.
Civic participation, especially voting, is critical to a healthy democracy. We hope, whatever your political perspective, that you will take the time to cast your vote and bring greater political attention to the issues you care about. Thank you for reading this message, and we look forward to seeing our community come together to vote this October and November.
Anna Margaret Clyburn
Dean of Undergraduates
Faculty Senate Speaker
Dean of Graduate Students
Associate Vice President of Human Resources
Director of the Center for Civic Leadership