We Are Part of Something Greater Than Ourselves

Dear Ithaca College Community,

 This is a big week for our country. Tomorrow is Election Day, coming near the end of an extreme and exhausting year that has challenged us to center our shared humanity and our personal well-being amidst a global pandemic, racial unrest, and the undeniable urgency of climate change.

As I stood in line to cast my ballot last week, I thought of this community and how deeply change is impacting all of us, and how now — more than ever — it is important to authentically and honestly engage with one another, lean in to this moment, and fully embrace our responsibility to this community and to the greater good.

For those of us who are citizens of this country, voting is our civic responsibility. I know many of you, like me, have voted already, with more of us heading to our polling places tomorrow. Several members of our community have also been volunteering at the polls to ensure that one of the most powerful acts in a true democracy is protected and accessible — thank you for this incredible service. I want to also note my gratitude for the grace that we are offering to one another as we understand that schedules, daily obligations, and appointments may be disrupted due to an expected huge turnout and recognize all that our students are negotiating from various locations all around the country.

Today, I am writing to encourage you to participate in this defining moment for our nation, and to recognize how special and formative this moment is. I also want to affirm how critical it is that we intentionally embrace our collective humanity — as a nation and as an IC family — in the days and weeks after Election Day.

There are many students within our community who are voting for the very first time in this general election, and as I posted recently in my blog, youth empowerment is critical to our ability to evolve as a nation and as a society. I also recently had a chance to connect with some faculty and staff who are voting for the first time this year — one of whom is thrilled to exercise this right after becoming a U.S. citizen just a few months ago.

My dear friend Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, recently posted this touching video about his grandmother’s experience as a Black woman voting in the South during a time of Jim Crow and the “Alabama Literacy Test.” People like Gracie, Freeman’s grandmother, have fought all their lives for the right to vote. It is a fundamental part of our democracy that we cannot take for granted and an amazing honor that transcends party affiliation and politics.

Though tomorrow is Election Day, the coming weeks will also demand the very best of us during a time of great divisiveness and pain in our country. For our students, I encourage you to visit this page if you are seeking post-election resources. For all of us, I urge that we rise above the turmoil and model the kind of respect, integrity, actions, and human decency that are rooted in the belief that a true democracy embraces the reality that we are all interconnected and that we are all part of something greater than ourselves.

All my best,

Shirley M. Collado