Participating in Election Day and the Democratic Process

As a community, we have been thinking a lot about the upcoming election on November 3, and what it means for us as a Quaker school to be able to participate in this fundamentally important civic process. Recently, my administration and I received a heartfelt letter from our upper school affinity groups (Asian Student Union, Black Student Union, Jewish Student Union, Qlub, Quake, Feminism Club), White Anti-Racism Group, and other upper school students. Together they requested that students and employees be excused on Election Day to actively participate in the democratic process and have their voices heard, vote, work at the polls, and encourage others to vote as well. We have therefore decided that Friends Select School will be closed on Tuesday, November 3. 

Here is an excerpt from their letter:

This election is one of the most, if not the most, consequential in our nation's history, and every member of our community will be deeply affected by policies resulting from this election at the local and national level. These policies will cross racial, gender, and ability lines. They will affect people of all social classes, but significantly they will affect the already oppressed and disenfranchised members of our community the most. As members of a Quaker community dedicated to enacting social change to make the world a more equitable place, we must commit ourselves to allow as many people as possible the opportunity to use their voice and give up their time to help others on this momentous day.

In the United States, there is a history of voter suppression. Many people have been systematically denied the right to vote, which disproportionately affects marginalized populations. Many of Friends Select's affinity groups represent communities that had to fight for their right to vote, and to this day are not granted equal access. Therefore, we feel it is our responsibility to make it as easy as possible for members of our community to participate in democracy. 

We hope you will join us in feeling both profoundly moved by this letter and proud of our upper school students for their initiative. It reflects the culmination of years of encouraging student voice and agency, which is central to our strategic plan, Advance Friends Select. Their request also feels true to our mission as a Quaker school, considering our commitments to equity and social justice, as well as our duty to actively engage in civic responsibility.

We thank you for your understanding and hope this decision will provide our community with the opportunity to participate in this election. At the same time, let's also keep the health and safety of our community in mind. If you plan to vote in person or volunteer at the polls, wear a face covering, maintain physical distancing as much as possible, and bring some hand sanitizer with you. We hope everyone is able to exercise their civic duty safely on Election Day.   

Warmly,

 

Michael Gary
Head of School