Carnegie Mellon University

October 15, 2020

Dear Members of the CMU Community:

Over the last few weeks, a number of students have petitioned the administration about cancelling classes and other non-election day activities on November 3, as well as making sure that no academic deadlines fall on Election Day. After consulting with our deans and academic leadership, we have decided not to cancel classes. However, our expectation is that maximum flexibility be extended to students, faculty and staff on Election Day, including cancelling non-election related events and assuring that no academic deadlines fall on the day. 

Our decision reaffirms our commitment to civic engagement previously communicated by President Jahanian, Human Resources and me. Our hope is that maximum flexibility further demonstrates our support for everyone who is voting or volunteering on Election Day.

For our students, maximum flexibility means that you should not encounter any exams, assignments, special events or required synchronous class activity (e.g., lecture or group activity) that day. Faculty, if you choose to offer a synchronous activity on November 3, please record this content so that those not able to be in class that day can view it at a later time. It would be best if you design an asynchronous activity for all students that day, if at all possible. If you are an instructor who would like support in implementing flexibility in a way that aligns with your specific course, please email the Eberly Center at If students have any concerns about not being able to vote or volunteer on Election Day, they are encouraged to reach out to their faculty member, advisor or an associate dean.

For our staff and faculty, maximum flexibility means that supervisors and department heads are encouraged to avoid scheduling any internal meetings, deadlines or projects on this day. This flexibility also extends to accommodating early dismissal or late arrival, so that any community member has the latitude they need to vote and also to volunteer, if they so desire. Exempt and non-exempt staff positions as well as students working as research and teaching assistants should discuss their desire to volunteer on Election Day with their direct supervisor or PI in order to take the day off. We support you in your service to the community on Election Day and encourage you to work with your supervisor or department head in advance to make those arrangements. If you are a supervisor who would like support in creating flexibility within your team, feel free to reach out to your Human Resources Business Partner for further guidance.

Thank you for exercising your right to vote and supporting civic engagement in our community.


Jim Garrett