College of

Tips for Helping Students Navigate Polarizing Pandemic Election Times

Culture of Caring presentation by Claudia Finkelstein, MDCM, Director of Wellness, Resilience And Vulnerable Populations


Resources from the Presentation


The 2020 presidential election is a source of significant stress for more Americans than the 2016 presidential race - American Psychological Assiciation, October 7, 2020

What is the goal?

  • Effectively working with students to both acknowledge impact of and NOT focus on partisan politics
  • Validate range of emotions/experience
  • Focus on alignment around values
  • Skills to deal with conflict/stress
  • Resources for people (students/staff/faculty) wanting further support

Start here

  • Challenging times now and ahead
  • Opportunity to practice our stated values
  • We may not know right away (prepare for this)
  • MI is a swing state
  • This is collaborative workspace-not “safe space” which you may also need (and I may or may not provide)
  • Look forward - stake in the future

From MSU: Building inclusive communities

  • "Almost all of us are struggling with a unique set of challenges these days, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, economic fallout, ongoing efforts for social justice, and other experiences."
  • "I’m a good listener, and I can help connect you to campus and other resources here to help you."
  • "I am committed to helping you successfully complete this course, but it’s even more important to me that you experience our virtual classroom as a space that is open, inclusive, and supportive."

Ground rules for our group

  • Goals
  • Airtime
  • Punditry
  • Hate speech

Layers of values

  • Personal
  • College
  • University
  • Profession

The Virtuous Professional

7 ideas from the Dialogue Project

  • Don’t stay silent
  • Acknowledge difficulty
  • Listen actively
  • Model desired behavior- casual banter
  • Empathic leadership- don’t gloat
  • Resist role of pundit
  • Focus on core values

Coping Strategies for You and Them

  • Active - problem or emotion focused
  • Avoidant - denial, disassociation (bad rap?)

Active Coping Strategies

  • Run/walk/eat/sleep/music- emotion focused
  • Reframe (look for hope)/volunteer/connect with values
  • What has worked for you before –tap into past resilience strategies
  • Social connection

Avoidant Strategies

  • Book/movies/gaming/turn off screen
  • Politic free zone

Resources and Upcoming Events

CAPS Post-Election Listening Space – This CAPS Listening Space is meant to serve MSU students who need a safe space to talk and listen post-election.

  • Wednesday, November 4th 12:00-1:00 pm
  • Facilitated by Dr. Mark Patishnock, Dr. Lee Wang, and Dan Murphy, MA.
  • For questions, please contact Dr. Mark Patishnock:
  • Registration Link

Listening Space for Coping with Racial Concerns and the Election – This listening space is intended to explore the intersectionality of race in connection to the election.  This is a listening space geared towards students of color who are having racial concerns in connection to the election.  Undergraduate and Graduate MSU Students welcome.

De-Politicizing Your Organization special event with post-event dicussion - MSU Eli Broad College of Business Executive Development Programs explores what the organization can do to promote a politics-free zone and how employees can disagree and still work well together.

The Day After: Moving Forward Post Election