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Cornell's religious organizations are focusing on providing support to students and faculty in light of Election Day.

November 6, 2020

Religious Life at Cornell Works to Calm Elections Anxiety

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Like many across the country, Cornellians are no strangers to Election Day anxiety. As the race is still too close to call, spiritual organizations on campus aim to offer students a place of solace while dealing with election-related stress. 

Throughout Nov. 3 and Nov. 4, Cornell Health, Cornell United Religious Work, the Office of the Dean of Students and Cornell Votes hosted an event called “Elect & Reflect: Meditation & Reflection for Election 2020.” 

Open to all students, the event was an opportunity to participate in hourly 15-minute guided reflections and gain perspective on the election.

Cornell Hillel held office hours throughout the eve of Election Day and the day of for students to drop in to discuss any concerns or stresses they have regarding the election.

Rabbi Ari Weiss, who is the executive director of Cornell Hillel, said while he is anxious about the outcome of the election, he remains hopeful. “I’m hopeful that America will come out the better,” he said.

On Oct. 29, Cornell MECA hosted an event over Zoom alongside other Muslim student associations and the Democratic Socialists of America to discuss how Muslim students can organize and remain politcally engaged beyond Election Day.

Cornell Catholic also played a role in helping students get through an Election Day like no other. While Anabel Taylor Hall and Sage Chapel have been closed since March due to the pandemic, Cornell Catholic has been holding individually scheduled, livestreamed conversations between the Catholic campus ministry staff and students.

“There have been more of these conversations in recent weeks as students prepared for the election and, as you can imagine, students are still scheduling conversations now in the uncertain aftermath of the elections,” said Father Daniel McMullin.

Cornell Catholic also took part in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Election Novena that lasted from Oct. 26 to Nov. 4, where students could join over Zoom for a five-minute prayer service.

The group will also be meeting at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Collegetown for two nights a week until Thanksgiving to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation –– one of the seven sacraments where people confess their sins to the priest in order to gain forgiveness.

Locally, Ithaca’s First Baptist Church held a 48-hour vigil over Zoom that lasted from the eve of Election Day to the day after, and the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca held an “After Election Day Vigil” from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“Just breathe, and take it in. It is totally normal to feel anxious,” Weiss said. “The world doesn’t stop, and there’s always tomorrow and the day after. There are people at Cornell that care about you. Hillel cares about you. The Chaplains at CURW care about you. Student Life cares about you. Cornell Health cares about you.”