Civic engagement is central to this University’s values and to our mission. We cannot prepare students to positively impact their communities without encouraging them to act on those values in the public sphere. This is true no matter what an individual’s political party or affiliation might be.

We are so proud that our students recognize this and have requested the opportunity to engage more fully on Election Day. We have heard this in a nonpartisan manner from student government leaders. To our students: We are proud of your desire to engage in the public sphere, and we hear you.

To ensure that Suffolk students can more fully engage in the political process, all classes will be canceled this Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. Beyond the fundamental civic duty to vote, this decision will also make it easier for students to participate in numerous ways, whether by serving as volunteer poll workers, supporting a candidate, or simply taking time to observe and learn about the political process. While they cannot vote in this election, our international students, and particularly those studying in Boston, can use this time to observe, discuss, and learn about the democratic process in the United States. For those interested, Vice President for International Affairs Sebastián Royo will host a Zoom conversation for international students on Election Day entitled “The U.S. Presidential Election: An International Perspective.” A global education should include understanding civic processes in nations other than our own. In addition, a broad range of election focused events are scheduled. You can find information about them on the Suffolk Votes web page.

The University will remain open on Election Day, and all services for students will continue to be available, though we are taking steps to encourage employees to engage as well.

There is no doubt that this current election cycle has sparked heightened passions across the political spectrum. But this is not a partisan issue. Instead, this is about the value that we as a University place on civic engagement, which is so important to the health of any democracy. Our students understand this, and we stand with them in their commitment to actively and positively participate, no matter which candidate they may support.

While it goes without saying, please do remember that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. As you engage, please be sure that you are doing so safely. Wear a mask. Social distance. You can be politically engaged while still taking the right precautions from a health perspective. Being responsible in the midst of the current health crisis is another important part of being a citizen of the world.

As I said in a blog post a little more than a month ago, participate — it is the Suffolk way. My thanks to our students for giving us the gentle push to ensure nothing stands in their way.


Marisa J. Kelly