Through the years, John Brown University has abided by the motto “Christ Over All” and vows to educate its students’ “head, heart and hands.” When a pandemic arose, JBU adopted another saying, “Love God; love others; love JBU.” So, what will the university have to say to its students after the anticipated 2020 election?
President Chip Pollard says that “loving your enemy” is an extension to the values that JBU has already set forth in this unpredictable time, and it will be the most important part in handling the post-election atmosphere. Of course, “enemy” in this case is not necessarily an actual foe but those whom students see as on their opposing side, making agreement and even getting along difficult.
Tensions are high not only across the nation but also on college campuses in these last few weeks of the semester before students leave for break. Students genuinely care about the state of the nation and who is running it, making tension inevitable. According to a national survey done by College Pulse, about 71% of college students plan to vote in this year’s election, motivated by the impact of COVID-19. It also showed that students, though not thrilled about either candidate, feel strongly about their choice.
Students appear to be polarized on their beliefs, but, simultaneously, they are unified in their distrust for the system, which creates a recipe for anxiety and stress in the next month.
Students at John Brown University especially are not ones to ignore what is going on in the world, attending, hosting and sometimes protesting political events on campus.
The administration in this political climate seeks to spark respectful conversations while also encouraging students to show love to those who disagree with them and take care of themselves. Campus leaders have given special attention to what the campus atmosphere will look like after the election.
Trisha Posey, director of the Honors Scholars Program, is focused especially on how students can help themselves in order to love their neighbors better.
“The value of rest, especially Sabbath rest, is the reminder it gives us that God, in his goodness and sovereignty, provides for our every need. We need not place our hope in a political party or an election outcome to know that God will take care of us,” Posey said. “I would hope that our students would take time to rest, especially on Sunday, to recenter themselves in a way that reflects this trust in God.”
President Chip Pollard has also dedicated lots of time to thinking about how to improve students’ quality of life after the election, especially for those who are unhappy with the results.
“Some people may be super excited and not know what to do with the celebration, and some people may be super disappointed and maybe even hurt and won’t know what to do with that, so maybe talkback sessions would be a way for them to process the results rather than them just responding with the urgency of the results,” Pollard said.
These talkback sessions, hosted on Nov. 4 and Nov. 5, create a space for students to process the results of the election and dialogue with professors, staff and fellow students. It is also evident that other leaders on campus, along with Pollard and Posey, are prepared to remind students that their citizenship is not in a country but in Heaven.
Love God. Love others. Love JBU. And now, love your enemy. These four commands are what students should be striving towards, according to the university administration, in a season that continues to be full of unpredictability. Posey said, “Whenever I’m tempted toward anger in relation to a brother or sister in Christ, I remember Colossians 3:12-14: ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.’”