Coping with Incoming Election Results

Bridgewater College Tackles Tension of Election Week Through Programming

Election+Decompression

Photo by Joshua Whittington

Student Life helps students decompress from election tension with coloring, popping bubble wrap and getting some fresh air.

Jalissa White-Jones, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – The nation continues to wait for results of the presidential election between former Vice President Joe Biden and current President Donald Trump. 

In preparation, Bridgewater College planned various events to help ease possible tension from the election among students, staff and faculty.

On Tuesday Nov 3, on the official election night at 5 p.m., Student Life hosted “What to Expect When You Are Electing,” a discussion on how to prepare for the election and what is to come after the election.

The discussion panel consisted of Associate Professor History & Political Science Bobbi  Gentry, Professor of Sociology Mwizenge Tembo, Associate Dean of Students & Psychologist Neal Rittenhouse. 

Director of the Center for Engaged Learning and Professor of Political Science Jamie Frueh moderated the event.

Gentry began the discussion by explaining that this election is not like any other and the amount of early voting is “simply unheard of.” 

Tembo shared words of advice to Bridgewater College students to help deal with public disappointment. “We are often more scared of our reaction than the actual results,” said Tembo. 

“Don’t talk about it, and don’t start some argument. Pain heals with time, and it will not last long,” said Tembo.“You should not be afraid of your friends. Don’t talk about politics, instead go hangout with friends and have fun.” 

Rittenhouse agreed with his fellow panelists that this presidential election will cause many people to have disagreements, but this is a normal occurrence. 

“This will cause emotions to run high,” said Rittenhouse. “You’re supposed to step on people’s toes, and bump heads.” 

Rittenhouse explained that difficult conversations about politics help people to look at the scenarios from different points of view and it is okay to have different opinions. “You’re supposed to disagree,” said Rittenhouse. 

Rittenhouse encouraged BC students to “be curious, and to invite your friends to be curious on why you feel the way you do.” He expressed that people should take time to decide what they are really upset about when the election is over.

Rittenhouse reminded BC Students that four years can be a long time, or a short time, but “it will not be forever,” and students should “remember to be kind to one another” as the election draws to a close.

Tembo reminded students, faculty and staff that if there is a delay in the delivering of the results “it’s not corruption.” This issue of corruption has been fueled by recent reports of President Donald Trump claiming mail-in voting is fraudulous. 

Towards the end of the discussion panel, Frueh stated that a “liberal arts education is supposed to help diffuse these feelings we may have.”

On Nov. 4, students were able to participate in election decompression on the campus mall. Students indulged in self care activities including snacks and fire pits. Conversations on the results of the election were highly encouraged.

Director of Student Wellness Shannon Pope encouraged students to participate in this week’s events. Though it can be a stressful event, Pope reminds students that they are not alone.

 “We understand that this is a difficult time in our country and we want to help our students process things that are happening. We are all feeling tired and stressed. We need to move forward as a community after the election results are finalized,” said Pope.