As election results continue to unfold, people’s fear of election-related unrest continues to rise, but Oklahoma State University is prepared for events following Election Day.
From observing the national political climate, OSU President Burns Hargis says he is worried about what might happen after the election.
“On either side there’s some people that are pretty radical,” Hargis said. “I fear [they] might take to the streets. It’s a shame the country’s become so divided… I’m far from putting the blame on any one area.”
While OSU’s leadership is concerned, the campus police department and the departments of student affairs are ready for any eventualities.
Each department planned for Election Day and whatever may follow. Even though they both prepared differently, they resonate a message of encouraging respect among students despite differences of opinion.
Last Friday, student affairs sent an email encouraging students to facilitate effective conversations along with options to cope with the election results, such as taking advantage of the campus mental health resources.
Even though the student affairs anticipated a number of possibilities, public information officer Shannon Rigsby says the police department is aware of the national political conversation and the planned for any occurrences on Election Day but cannot predict what will happen.
“I’m not comfortable speculating at all,” Rigsby said. “Speculation is not a good thing to do in practice, but preparation is necessary.”
Rigsby also said she is fortunate to be in a community where protests earlier in the year were peaceful and says she hopes people will continue to show consideration for one another.
“Regardless of the outcome of the election our expectation is for our campus community to treat everyone with respect,” Rigsby said. “Regardless of their beliefs about their election.”
These preparations include extra patrols around various polling locations, monitoring social media and stressing the idea of open conversations between students.
Rigsby says the department prepared for people to feel safe, but student feedback is necessary.
“If a student feels uncomfortable, if a student feels there is something going on that needs to be reported then absolutely report it,” Rigsby said.