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ASU students gather — socially distanced — on campus to discuss the election

School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership holds its first in-person event of semester to give students a space to talk


Students sit socially distanced outside to discuss the election
November 06, 2020

Students from Arizona State University's School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership donned their masks and gathered physically distanced on Thursday outside Coor Hall on ASU’s Tempe campus for a discussion about the historic 2020 presidential election.

Led by school Director Paul Carrese and faculty members Adam Seagrave, Aaron Kushner, Luke Perez and Carol McNamara, students raised questions and searched for insight on the uncertainties of the election. 

“Elections are a great democratic, republican, constitutional event — we should talk about them,” Carrese said. 

Students raised a broad range of topics, including the nature of the narrow race between candidates, the future of voting and confidence in polling.

“I was interested in the idea of party identity and the ramifications of this election and how much faith people have in the candidates,” student Ian McCutcheon said.

“Our idea was that a particularly contentious election needs an opportunity, a space for students to talk,” Carrese said. 

Students communicated the uneasiness that they felt surrounding the election as they anticipated results two days after polling stations closed.

“I just turned 18, this is my first election to be a part of, and because I don’t know any other way an election runs, it has been very interesting and a lot of fun being a part of something like this, but it’s also stressful and nerve-wracking to be on day three with no sign of who is going to win,” student Flannery Sloan said.

Students asked questions that demonstrated the underlying anxiety many Americans are feeling about this contentious election, Carrese said. Despite the general unrest, students conveyed a sense of optimism about the future of the nation. 

“I think it’s an important election for Americans to see just how polarized we are and maybe wake up and see this is not the way we should live; it’s not healthy for anyone. It’s time we start looking at resolutions,” Sloan said.

“It has been really discouraging to see everything this polarized, but I think the one encouraging sign has been high voter turnout. I hope that’s something that we see going forward,” student Jacob Salas said.

Video by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

Together again

This was the first in-person event the school held for the fall 2020 semester, and it garnered an overall positive response from the students.

“It’s a lot more natural (to have the event in-person). You could see the four professors were a lot more natural in how they could interchange in the conversation and add something versus online,” student Stephen Matter said.

The staff at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership followed careful guidelines to ensure physical distancing procedures were followed and students were kept as safe as possible, such as carefully distancing chairs and sanitizing them before use, mandating face coverings for all panelists and attendees, and required attendees to register and check in to the event in order to monitor the number of people present. 

“It was the first in-person event since March,” Carrese said. “I’m glad we did it, and we will try to do some more. We have to do it within the health and safety guidelines, and I think we’ll keep trying to figure out how to do that. I hope the students will continue to respond to those invitations.”

This article was written by Alyssa Marksz.

Top photo: Students from the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership gathered to discuss the election Nov. 5 at ASU's Tempe campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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