The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday August 16th

Some professors give students Election Day off to encourage voting

Early voting poll workers wear protective gear while helping register and sign in voters on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 at the Carrboro Town Hall.
Buy Photos Early voting poll workers wear protective gear while helping register and sign in voters on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 at the Carrboro Town Hall.

Although the University did not implement a University-wide day off for students, many professors canceled class on Election Day to give their students a chance to vote before polls close at 7:30 p.m. in North Carolina. 

According to Leslie Minton, associate director of Media Relations, the University could not cancel any additional instructional days due to the already compacted schedule this semester. 

But, “faculty are encouraged to work with students and be flexible and compassionate with absences, including on Election Day,” she said in an email. 

Constance Lindsay, a professor in the School of Education, said that while creating the course schedule at the beginning of the semester, she decided to give students the day off for the election. 

“I felt like it was probably going to be a really stressful day for them,” she said, recounting her own experience having to go to class for her postdoctoral program the day after the 2016 election. “It was just a lot.” 

Lindsay said she imagined trying to focus in class on Election Day would be difficult for many students. She hopes that the day off will give her students an opportunity to go vote if they haven’t already, or just allow them to take a break. 

“I think it’s important that people can take the day and do what they need to do,” Lindsay said. 

Many students have shown appreciation for professors who have given them the day off. 

Mady Clahane, a senior studying psychology and human development and family studies, said her Tuesday class has been canceled on the syllabus since the first day of class this semester. 

“I think it’s a great decision,” Clahane said. 

She said her professor made all important assignments due before Election Day. 

“It really shows how much she cares about us voting and giving those people who haven’t voted yet a last chance to vote,” Clahane said. 

Clahane’s professor said the material being taught in the class should help students make an informed choice on voting in the election. 

Although many early voting options exist, Clahane said there are plenty of circumstances where people may have not had the chance to go vote early. A day off on Election Day gives students an opportunity to spend the day voting, she said. 

“That’s kind of cool, just seeing how invested she is in all of us voting,” she said. 

Hannah Thompson, a junior studying communication studies, said she also had a class canceled on Election Day. 

“I really appreciate the time given to prepare, just because it’s an especially tense year and a really controversial election,” she said.

Although Thompson has already voted, she said she appreciates the time off from class that day, so students won’t be distracted by the election. 

“It’s kind of wack honestly,” Thompson said in reference to the University not implementing a school-wide day off on Nov. 3. “Normally, we get a day off just to celebrate the birthday of the University. The election only happens once every four years — it doesn’t take that much.” 

A’sja Abron, a sophomore studying psychology and human development and family studies, said one of her professors reminded students in their last class that there would be no class on Election Day, and urged students to go vote. 

“I already sent in my ballot, but some people feel more comfortable with voting on Election Day in person, because everyone has their own specific voting plan,” Abron said. “So I really appreciate how my professor dedicated that time to people for which early voting wasn’t an option.” 

Abron said the class discusses topics involving policy and different political views, many of which are relevant to the upcoming election. 

“I like how she’s giving us these opportunities where we engage in this dialogue and discussion, but also being able to use our opinions and cast our votes,” Abron said. 

Abron said she supports a University-wide day off on Election Day — both to give students and professors an opportunity to vote if they haven’t already, and to deal with the emotional toll that comes with the election.  

“If you don’t give students that platform to actually do the ideas that are being taught and participate in the democracy that’s being taught in some of the classes, it’s kind of hypocritical,” Abron said. “You want students to be engaged in their community but you don’t give them the space to do that.”

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