Col­lege lead­ers aim to ease stu­dent fears about era of Trump

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

Bard Col­lege on Fri­day ad­dressed a “world turned up­side down” by the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump as pres­i­dent, char­ac­ter­iz­ing him as a per­son who has cul­ti­vated deep di­vi­sions re­gard­ing race and other mat­ters.

A two-hour pro­gram fea­tur­ing Bard Pres­i­dent Leon Bot­stein and jour­nal­ism pro­fes­sor Mark Dan­ner was put on in re­sponse to a sense of shock, es­pe­cially on col­lege cam­puses, over Trump’s elec­tion vic­tory and his po­ten­tial poli­cies.

Bot­stein promised the pro­tec­tion of Bard stu­dents who are sub­jected to ha­rass­ment be peo­ple who might feel em­pow­ered by Trump’s history

of dis­parag­ing of women, mi­nori­ties and im­mi­grants.

“Our se­cu­rity and dean of stu­dents, staff, all of us are now very aware of this is­sue,” he said. “... We will work di­rectly with law-en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties to en­sure that your rights, that your free­doms and you safety is pro­tected to the best of our abil­i­ties.”

The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported Fri­day that its staff and lo­cal me­dia out­lets across the coun­try had iden­ti­fied more than 20 racially charged in­ci­dents at schools and uni­ver­si­ties since Elec­tion Day.

Re­gard­ing Trump’s tough rhetoric re­gard­ing im­mi­grants, Bot­stein said: “I have no traf­fic with the anti-im­mi­grant sen­ti­ment and the ex­clu­sion of peo­ple who are here and not of­fer­ing them an ed­u­ca­tion. They can only con­trib­ute pos­i­tively to the na­tion.”

Dan­ner said Trump’s propen­sity to­ward “scape­goat­ing” could lead to mak­ing en­e­mies in the Congress even though the House and Se­nate will have Repub­li­can ma­jori­ties.

“It’s a Congress that has dif­fer­ent goals than he does, and he is faced with en­act­ing po­lices, many of which ... aren’t re­ally achiev­able,”

the pro­fes­sor said. “It seems within that fact lies the be­gin­ning of cer­tain fail­ures that he can be ex­pected to suf­fer in the next year or the next cou­ple years.”

Dan­ner said he wor­ries about the prospect of Trump’s high-level ap­pointees in­clud­ing New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie and for­mer New York City Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani.

“Trump has sur­rounded him­self with a bevy of thugs,” he said.

Bot­stein said im­prov­ing the U.S. ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is the cure to a Trump pres­i­dency.

“The big­gest gap in the num­bers [be­tween Trump and Hil­lary Clin­ton sup­port­ers] was be­tween the ed­u­cated and the un­e­d­u­cated,” he said.

Other col­leges in the re­gion also have rec­og­nized the anx­i­ety over Trump be­ing elected pres­i­dent and are ad­dress­ing con­cerns about chang­ing at­ti­tudes.

SUNY New Paltz on Fri­day is­sued a press re­lease say­ing pro­grams are be­ing sched­uled to help stu­dents feel safe.

“I know that we are all, in dif­fer­ent ways and in dif­fer­ent spaces, try­ing to work through a range of in­tense emo­tions, in­clud­ing fear and pain, to the out­come of this week’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion,” col­lege Pres­i­dent Don­ald Chris­tian said. “We con­demn hate speech and bias

acts in our com­mu­nity and rec­og­nize that any­time they oc­cur, they harm the en­tire com­mu­nity.”

Chris­tian added that the cam­pus has a “di­verse ar­ray of dif­fer­ent races, re­li­gions, na­tional origins, sex­ual and gen­der ori­en­ta­tions/iden­ti­ties, ages, phys­i­cal abil­i­ties, in­tel­lec­tual in­ter­ests and view­points. This is a time when our abil­ity to live with am­bi­gu­ity and change will be fully tested, and as col­lege pres­i­dent, I urge pa­tience and tol­er­ance with each other.”

Marist Col­lege, in Poughkeepsie, has sched­uled a “unity event” for Wed­nes­day. And the col­lege’s pres­i­dent, David Yellen, is­sued a mes­sage prior to the elec­tion that called for re­spect re­gard­less of the out­come.

“Af­ter a di­vi­sive and of­ten dispir­it­ing year, may the mem­bers of our col­lege com­mu­nity pro­vide an ex­am­ple of civic virtue in all of our speech and ac­tion,” he wrote.

Bot­stein on Fri­day tried to soothe fears to by point­ing Trump’s demon­strated lack of fo­cus.

“I’m fright­ened the way you’re fright­ened, but also this guy has never done any­thing that worked,” he said. “So I don’t want to make hu­mor out of it, but we’re not look­ing the most valu­able player in the Na­tional League. This is a guy who couldn’t get on the team.”

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