We are now just a month out from what was arguably the most volatile presidential election in modern times. Following the election, the number of hate crimes skyrocketed—many of which were directly linked to President-Elect Donald Trump winning the election. Within the first 10 days following the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) documented 867 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation.
While the SPLC’s documentation included crimes nationally, there has been many reports on college campuses—especially against LGBTQ students and groups, religious minorities and racial minorities. In response to this climate of hate and uncertainty, many students who identify with underrepresented groups have expressed feelings of fear and worry over what their future may hold under a Trump presidency.
In order to take a stand in support of these students, a group of college and university presidents from across the United States wrote and then signed an open letter to Trump encouraging him to be kind and stand up for all citizens. They encouraged Trump to “condemn and work to prevent the harassment, hate and acts of violence that are being perpetrated across our nation, sometimes in [his] name.”
In addition to encouraging Trump to stand up for this, the presidents who signed this letter also committed to reaffirming what they consider to be the core values of the US: “human decency, equal rights, freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination.”
Originally there were around 100 presidents who signed the letter—though more have been signing as time goes on. Among the original 100 presidents to sign the letter was Elizabethtown College’s president, Dr. Carl Strikwerda.
Strikwerda said he was asked to sign the letter by a group of other presidents from around the country. He reiterated the idea that the letter was created in response to an outburst of “bias-related incidents” at campuses across the country.
“I hope this speaks to the fact that Elizabethtown College is standing on its values…and that I as president stand for those values and reaffirm them and speak to how I hope we go forward as a country,” Strikwerda said.
In addition to this letter that urges Trump to stand up for the rights of all, Strikwerda also mentioned his participation in another open letter signed by over 90 college presidents, which encourages Trump to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a program which protects children brought into the country illegally.
While the two letters were unrelated and neither has been a representation of Etown’s opinion as a whole, both have meant to represent Strikwerda’s commitment to making sure all students are offered equal opportunities and are protected from hate and harassment.