Universities prepare faculty for 'catastrophic' Thanksgiving
Several universities are providing faculty members with tips and tricks to make it through a politically contentious Thanksgiving holiday.
According to one community college chancellor, discussing politics with your family at Thanksgiving could even wind up being “catastrophic.”
“Be thankful...we live in a resilient nation that will eventually and inevitably find its way forward again.”
Constance Carroll, Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD), sent an email to colleagues and supporters Monday offering advice for the upcoming holiday ostensibly inspired by a photograph of several resolute-looking turkeys, starting with the suggestion that they avoid talking politics with family members who voted differently in the recent election.
“The first lesson is to ensure a peaceful Thanksgiving dinner and holiday by not discussing the recent presidential election with people, especially family members, who did not vote the same way you did,” Carroll submits, warning that “the results of doing so could be very unpleasant, if not catastrophic.”
Carroll also expresses hope that the “onslaught of family and friends” would not be “as aggressive as these turkeys” during what should be a “safe and restful period of giving thanks.”
Despite potential conflicts with family members over politics, Carroll reminded faculty members they should be thankful for the “San Diego Promise to make college free for students,” as well as “salary increases” and “multiculturalism.”
Notre Dame of Maryland University also offered guidance for making it through a “stressful” Thanksgiving, providing a list of five tips to faculty members and students.
“This year, we’ve got the added worry of spending the whole meal arguing with our loved ones about the outcome of the recent elections,” Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Fran Mindel writes. “Here are my top five suggestions for how to avoid a political revolution before the turkey is carved.”
One of Mindel’s tips to do away with the “kids table” and allow children to “set the tone” of the dinner conversation so that “oppositional relatives” will be less likely to shout across the table.
As a solitary exception to declaring the table a “Politics Free Zone,” Mindel concedes that faculty and students can have political debates with some Thanksgiving guests, but only with the most “competent, classy communicators,” and only with the blessing of the host.
“The truth is that some people love a good political debate and they know how to engage in one without making it personal,” she asserts. “But everyone might know that you can’t bring up gun control around Uncle Joe. So don’t.”
“Set some ground rules and appoint someone to be ‘in charge,’ Tip #4 states. “For example, ‘Talk about how you feel. Do not tell anyone else they are wrong, stupid, etc. No yelling. No cursing’ (you may want to have a ‘Cuss Jar’ for offenders and donate the money to charity).”
Despite the overwhelming fears of political conflict, both Carroll and Mindel remind their colleagues to be “grateful” this holiday season despite the disappointment some might feel over the result of the presidential election.
“Let us be thankful that we live in a beautiful region of the country, which is rich in its multiculturalism and spirit,” Carroll concludes her letter, reminding faculty members that “we live in a resilient nation that will eventually and inevitably find its way forward again.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @amber_athey