Get involved: Election-related activities at Williams

Williams students, staff and faculty,

With early voting about to begin in our area, I’m writing to encourage every member of our community to exercise their right to vote and take part in the political process.

No matter which party, candidate or ideology you may support, the state of our national political culture is cause for concern. It’s the job of a school like Williams to help people analyze and address societal challenges, among which ensuring a vital and inclusive democracy ranks highly.

Many people in our community have organized events and programs to help us work toward that goal during these last few weeks before the election. This letter highlights just some of the opportunities for you to get informed about and involved with the election and issues of voting rights and political participation.

In addition to the events described here, the Center for Learning in Action is curating a list, available to all, of ways you can support our electoral process, ranging from student voter registration to voting rights efforts across the U.S. Please find an opportunity that interests you and jump in: all of us are needed to make democracy work.

Since most of the following events are available to remote participants as well as people on campus, please note that the times provided are all Eastern Standard Time.

Finally, more programming is being planned for the days and weeks after the election, including a series of “Williams Reads”-style discussion groups hosted by faculty and staff, titled “The State of the (Dis)union: Making Our Place in a Divided America.” We’ll share details about those events once they’re confirmed. You should also check the college events calendar and follow Daily Messages for new opportunities as they emerge.

Whatever you do, thank you for getting involved. Now be sure to get out there and vote!



Today, October 16, 4 p.m.
2020 Presidential Election Discussion

Coming up shortly, James McAllister, the Fred Greene Third Century Professor of Political Science, will talk about the presidential debates, the upcoming election and what this election’s outcome could mean for the future of world politics. The talk will be followed by a short audience Q&A. Details and Zoom info are available on the program’s Event listing.


Monday and Tuesday, October 19-20 and October 26-27, 10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. all days
Balloting assistance for voters

The student-led, nonpartisan EphVotes team will offer in-person (socially distanced) balloting help at tables outside the Paresky Center. Stop by for envelopes, stamps and information on how to correctly fill out and mail your ballot. EphVotes has distributed pre-stamped envelopes, stamps and info sheets to the SU boxes of every on-campus student. Every Williams student with a U.S. address also received an email in late September with state-specific instructions on how to register to vote and submit an absentee ballot. You can also get help online through the EphVotes website at any time. Many thanks to the EphVotes students, who are helping all student voters make sure their votes are properly submitted and counted!


October 21 and 27, 4 p.m. both days
Teaching During a Highly Charged Political Season: Sessions for Faculty

Organized by Associate Dean of Faculty and Professor of History Sara Dubow and Associate Dean for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Professor of Latina/o Studies and Religion Jackie Hidalgo, these conversations will focus on teaching during times of high emotions and political polarization. The convenors will share teaching strategies they’ve tried, what worked or didn’t, and new strategies for teaching during the upcoming election.

The Wednesday, October 21, event will be co-led by Professor of Chinese Li Yu, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies VaNatta Ford and Associate Professor of Biology and Chair of the Neuroscience Program Tim Lebestky.

The Tuesday, October 27, event will be co-led by Betsy Burris, M.S.W, Ph.D., a teacher educator and consultant who has advised Williams faculty on instructional design and psychodynamic analysis of the teaching experience.

I also want to acknowledge Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Head Men’s Track and Field Coach Ethan Barron, who co-led an earlier session in this series last Tuesday.


Tuesday, October 20, 7–8:30 p.m.
Voting Rights, Election 2020, Colleges, Universities and Us

For this panel I’ll be joined by the presidents of three diverse schools: Ellen Kennedy of Berkshire Community College, Wayne Frederick of Howard University and Jonathan Holloway of Rutgers University. Together, we’ll reflect on the implications of voting rights and Election 2020 for the biggest issues facing colleges and universities today. The event will feature a conversation among the four of us with Q&A open to all participants, including students, faculty and staff from all four institutions. Our goal is to generate discourse on a pressing topic and continue those discussions in our college and university communities well beyond the fall. Details and Zoom info are available on the Event listing.

This event is co-hosted by the W. Ford Schumann ’50 Program in Democratic Studies at Williams and the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers.


Tuesday, October 27 8-9 p.m.
Pre-Election Roundtable 

Join this  Zoom discussion and Q&A with Williams faculty focused on the dynamics of the 2020 Election. Roundtable participants will offer their perspectives and insights, inviting attendees to raise questions and offer your own observations.

Jeff Israel, Associate Professor of Religion
James McCallister, Fred Greene Third Century Professor of Political Science
Tara Watson, Professor of Economics

Moderator: Ngonidzashe Munemo, Professor of Political Science and Chair of Global Studies


Tuesday, November 3, starting at 9 p.m., and Wednesday, November 4, starting at 9 a.m.
Time for Reflection 

If you would like to connect on or after election day, join your fellow students, faculty, and staff in these Zoom drop-in sessions, hosted by the Davis Center/Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Integrative Wellbeing Services; and the Chaplains Office. Davis Center Community Engagement Fellows and Chaplains’ Office Ambassadors will also be in attendance.


Wednesday, November 4, 7-8 p.m.
The Fight for Voting Rights: A View from the Ground

Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director, National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Ryan P. Haygood, President and CEO, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice
Nina Perales, Vice President, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
Daniel P. Tokaji, Fred W. & Vi Miller Dean and Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin

Moderator: Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes ’99, Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion