Univer­sity pres­i­dents join let­ter to Trump

Six from Mary­land urge him to con­demn acts of ha­rass­ment and vi­o­lence

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - Baltimore Sun re­porter Pam Wood con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. By Sarah Gantz sarah.gantz@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/sarah­gantz

Six univer­sity pres­i­dents from Mary­land joined 104 oth­ers who signed a let­ter call­ing on Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald J. Trump to re­spond to the rash of vi­o­lence fol­low­ing his up­set win.

“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,” reads the let­ter, dated Nov. 18.

Pres­i­dents of Mor­gan State Univer­sity, Steven­son Univer­sity, Mount St. Mary’s Univer­sity, Loy­ola Univer­sity Mary­land and Goucher Col­lege signed the let­ter, their uni­ver­si­ties con­firmed. Hood Col­lege Pres­i­dent An­drea Chapde­laine’s name is also on the let­ter; how­ever, the school could not be reached to con­firm.

Trump’s tran­si­tion team could not be reached for com­ment late Fri­day.

Speak­ing to the vi­o­lence in a “60 Min­utes” in­ter­view last Sun­day, Trump said: “If it helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the cam­eras: Stop it.”

The let­ter comes as school and com­mu­nity lead­ers grap­ple with ten­sions fol­low­ing Trump’s elec­tion. As of Nov. 15, the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter had tal­lied 435 in­ci­dents of ha­rass­ment and in­tim­i­da­tion since Elec­tion Day, 11 in Mary­land.

David Wil­son, pres­i­dent of Mor­gan State Univer­sity, a his­tor­i­cally black col­lege, said he signed the let­ter to af­firm the univer­sity’s val­ues and to ask the in­com­ing pres­i­dent to join in pro­tect­ing those val­ues.

“As you do, we ‘seek com­mon ground, not hos­til­ity; part­ner­ship, not con­flict,’ ” the let­ter reads. “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.”

Wil­son said the let­ter’s mes­sage is as much for Mor­gan’s stu­dents as it is for Trump. “As pres­i­dent, my re­spon­si­bil­ity is to en­sure that they un­der­stand that they are the fu­ture of this coun­try and they have to con­tinue to pre­pare to be the lead­ers that Amer­ica will some­day need,” Wil­son said. “I’m find­ing my­self hav­ing to re­as­sure them of that — they have not heard it in any de­fin­i­tive way, any kind of mes­sage like that yet.”

Wil­son said he was not aware of any in­ci­dents on Mor­gan’s cam­pus re­lated to the elec­tion but said he has heard from many stu­dents who are wor­ried, up­set, con­fused or an­gry. He said he thinks stu­dents are re­spond­ing to the lan­guage used dur­ing the cam­paign and try­ing to un­der­stand what that means for the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The day af­ter the elec­tion, Wil­son sent a let­ter to the cam­pus com­mu­nity to ad­dress those con­cerns.

“I know that through­out this very trou­bling cam­paign, you have been ex­posed to words spew­ing big­otry, ha­tred, sex­ism, racism, and xeno­pho­bia, to name a few. Please know that Mor­gan val­ues re­spect, in­clu­sive­ness, di­ver­sity, lead­er­ship and ex­cel­lence,” Wil­son wrote in the email Nov. 9. Two young women hug dur­ing a 2013 cer­e­mony by the memo­rial in Tow­son to po­lice of­fi­cers killed in the line of duty. County of­fi­cials have aban­doned a pro­posal to move the memo­rial as part of a re­designed Pa­triot Plaza.

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