University presidents join letter to Trump
Six from Maryland urge him to condemn acts of harassment and violence
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.