When there is unrest on campus and divisive topics are being debated both in and out of the classroom, some students will likely feel targeted. It may be LGBTQIA+ students, those from certain racial backgrounds, conservative or liberal students, women or men, or others. A key consideration for campus faculty and staff is how to help these targeted students feel safe. Facing bias, derogatory comments and physical threats can greatly impact any student, creating an unwelcoming educational environment. It’s imperative that we take intentional measures to prevent students from weathering this type of discrimination or threat.

For Discussion
So, what are some ways to help targeted students feel safe during this political season — and beyond? Consider this for group discussion with starter questions such as…

  • What types of incidents on our campus have created safety concerns for certain targeted groups?
  • What was our response?
  • What did we do well and what could we have done more effectively?
  • What has the potential to make students feel unsafe during this election season?
  • How can we proactively address these types of situations?
  • And what can we do reactively, in the moment?

Helping Students Feel Safe
Here are some ideas to add to the discussion…

  • Listen to students talk about why they feel unsafe
  • Create a reporting hotline and respond to concerns right away
  • Discuss these issues with key student leaders so they can trickle down to other students
  • Hold open office hours for students to come talk directly with you
  • Check in regularly with students in your organizations, classes, work environments and more
  • Host programs about various safety initiatives on campus and how to access them
  • Actively market the fact that threatening or harming others amidst protests, disagreements, speaker engagements and more is against campus policy — and, potentially, the law
  • Work with campus law enforcement to enhance their sensitivity and awareness about effectively working with certain targeted groups

Find hands-on tools like this one within our new 2024 Elections Resource Kit. Prepare your campus, address concerns, promote respectful engagement and raise awareness this election season.