Election Day will be a University holiday this year, officials said in an email Friday.
The email from University President Thomas LeBlanc and Provost Brian Blake states that synchronous course meetings will be canceled on Nov. 3, and offices will be closed as a “paid day off.” The announcement comes after more than 900 students signed a petition calling for officials to cancel synchronous classes on Election Day, citing American University’s decision last week to cancel classes for the election this year and for all future presidential election days as an example GW should follow.
The Medical Faculty Associates will remain open with clinical operations proceeding as scheduled, and students in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the School of Nursing who are participating in clinical and lab rotations are expected to report to their sites “as scheduled,” the email states.
Officials said “designated on-site staff” will report to work on Nov. 3 to support “health and safety” at GW, but staff members may work with their supervisors to schedule “up to two hours” of paid time away from work to vote.
LeBlanc and Blake said in the email that they encourage faculty to work with their classes to provide asynchronous instruction, assign “comparable” learning opportunities or make “special arrangements for time-limited in-person instruction.”
“We recognize that this decision may cause instructional disruption in certain programs, and we are grateful to our faculty for their flexibility in making appropriate accommodations,” they said in the email.
LeBlanc and Blake said they have heard from many students, faculty and staff about the significance of making Election Day a University holiday and said they hope the decision will encourage members of the GW community to use this time to volunteer at the polls, campaign on behalf of a candidate or support the democratic process in another way.
“Our community of scholars is one of the most politically active and civically engaged in the country, committed to driving positive change in the world,” they said. “Wherever you are this Election Day, we are confident you will continue to debate respectfully, demonstrate peacefully and make your voices heard.”