by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
During his Nov. 9 acceptance speech, President-elect Donald Trump promised “to every citizen of our land” that he would be “president for all Americans.” As the nation readies for a new administration, interim President Neil Weissman has joined a group of higher-ed leaders who call for the president-elect to make good on that vow by condemning harassment, beginning today.
The letter arrives in the wake of post-election reports of increased threats and incidents of violence and intimidation against people of color, immigrants, women and other vulnerable groups. More than 130 college and university presidents, representing institutions across the U.S. and in Canada, signed the open document.
Interim President Weissman sees the joint letter as an extension of his post-election call to members of the Dickinson community to proceed “with respect for the right of individuals and groups to freely hold and express their views without harassment.”
Dear President-elect Trump,
As do you, we “seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.” In order to maintain the trust required for such productive engagement, it is essential that we immediately reaffirm the core values of our democratic nation: human decency, equal rights, freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination. As college and university presidents, we commit ourselves to promoting these values on our campuses and in our communities, and we stand alongside the business, nonprofit, religious and civic leaders who are doing the same in organizations large and small.
In light of your pledge to be “President for all Americans,” we urge you to condemn and work to prevent the harassment, hate and acts of violence that are being perpetrated across our nation, sometimes in your name, which is now synonymous with our nation’s highest office. In our schools, on job sites and college campuses, on public streets and in coffee shops, members of our communities, our children, our families, our neighbors, our students and our employees are facing very real threats, and are frightened.
One of the roles of leaders is to protect and empower the most vulnerable. As president-elect, this responsibility rests heavily on you. Let this be a mark of your leadership.
Published November 21, 2016