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CAS issues statement on post-election climate

Our Post-election Position

Department of Communication Arts and Sciences


Every four years, the United States of America undertakes an election to identify the individuals who will serve as President and Vice President of our nation. The aftermath of every election finds people who are delighted, disappointed, or complacent about the outcome; every election leaves people optimistic, pessimistic, ambivalent, or without comment on the prospects for the future.  This diversity of reactions co-exists with the peaceable transfer of power from one presidency to the next, and this state of affairs is a hallmark of our nation.  In these regards, the election of 2016 is no different from those that have come before.


What is distinctive about the aftermath of this election, however, is the widespread fear that has emerged in its wake.  Some people feel that the campaign rhetoric gave voice to attitudes that discriminate against particular populations.  Some people feel that the election outcome has given license to commit acts of violence – both physical and symbolic – against members of our society.  Some people feel that lawful protests against the election outcome could grow into dangerous riots.  In the days following the election, individuals in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences were the targets of verbal aggression because of their age, gender, and political preferences.  Other students, staff, and faculty on campus have been harassed in the aftermath of the election, and still more fear that they will become the targets of harassment and violence.  Members of our community feel that, by virtue of voting for a particular candidate or none of the candidates, the full measure of their identity has been reduced to caricatures of the bigot, the sore loser, the vulnerable, or the foolish.


The Department of Communication Arts and Sciences takes no position on the outcome of the election.  This was a presidential campaign experience that, regardless of outcome, was poised to leave a substantial proportion of our citizens feeling neglected, marginalized, betrayed, and scared – and it has.  In this moment, the Department cannot be silent on the personal and social issues that confront us now and into the future.  As does Penn State University as a whole, the Department categorically opposes harassment of any kind, within our classrooms or on our campus, of students, faculty, or staff based on sex, race, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnic heritage, or political affiliation. Furthermore, the Department believes that we have a positive obligation to recognize – and respond to – the fact that people are afraid for themselves, for their loved ones, and for strangers whom they may have never met.  To not care about this fear is ethically indefensible.  To perpetuate this fear is morally repugnant.  This is neither a conservative stance nor a liberal one; this is a human stance.


The Department of Communication Arts and Sciences makes clear that we value, respect, and embrace all members of our community – Republican, Democrat, progressive, conservative, apolitical, white, black, Muslim, Hispanic, cis male, cis female, LGBTQ, undocumented, international, urban, rural, and so forth.  Moreover, the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences is committed to promoting ethical, humane discourse that fosters moral behavior.  We recognize the power of interpersonal communication and social influence within the fabric of our personal lives.  We recognize the power of civic engagement and public discourse within the fabric of our society.  As an intellectual community, we are dedicated to bringing our expertise to bear in these times.  We will seek to understand and foster civil discourse, even as we recognize that the pursuit of civility sometimes entails strong disagreement; sometimes requires calling attention to ugly circumstances; and sometimes means facing toward the darkness, rather than turning away.  We commit to upholding and promoting standards for ethical communication and to helping our communities stitch together the fabric of our personal and public relationships around the nonpartisan cause of – and in the name of – human decency.

Also See:


A message from Paul C. Taylor, Associate Dean, College of the Liberal Arts:


Resources Available:


For an emergency situation that does or could require medical, psychological or police services:

  •         Call 911 or the Penn State Police at 814-863-1111.


If you experience or witness bias or discrimination

  • Students at University Park should call the Lion Support Help Line at 814-863-2020 (available 24-hours a day)
  • Students at other campuses may contact their campus Student Affairs office to report acts of intolerance
  • Visit this website to report it (anonymously and after it happens):
  • Contact the Affirmative Action Office at 814-863-0471

To file a complaint outside of the University:

For more information on University Policies:

  • Policy AD85 Sexual and/or Gender-Based Harassment and Misconduct (including sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and related inappropriate conduct to include a section on Consensual Relationships) This policy also covers mandatory reporting and has both contact information and resources for reporting.
  • Policy AD91 Discrimination and Harassment, and Related Inappropriate Conduct (policy on discrimination and harassment in all forms, and retaliation related to reports of such conduct).


For additional help:

  • The Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response provides information related to four main categories: (1) How do I Get Help? (2) How do I Report an Incident? (3) How do I Support a Friend? and (4)Campus Resources.
  • The Behavioral Threat Management Team provides a coordinated response to threats to safety on campus:  855-863-2868, 814-863-2868, or