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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Eckerd College president signs letter asking Trump to denounce acts of violence on campus

Eckerd President Donald Eastman III

Times files

Eckerd President Donald Eastman III

18

November

Eckerd College hasn’t experienced the on-campus turmoil that dozens of universities have faced since the Nov. 8 election.

But Eckerd’s president, Donald Eastman, has joined 109 other college presidents in signing a letter to President-Elect Donald Trump, urging him to denounce the “harassment, hate and acts of violence that are being perpetrated across our nation, sometimes in your name.”

“Eckerd College has had no such incidents, but the issue is still important to President Eastman,” spokeswoman Robbyn Hopewell wrote in an email.

He signed the letter at a meeting of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities this week.

Bennington College president Mariko Silver organized the letter-writing effort. She told Inside Higher Ed that she heard fellow college leaders express concern about students’ well-being as hate-fueled incidents grabbed headlines nationwide.

She wanted Trump to acknowledge that anxiety and make a commitment to keeping students safe.

Since the election, Trump has addressed the broader issue of harassment of minorities, though briefly.

This is what he told 60 Minutes: “I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it -- if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: ‘Stop it.’”

Most of those who signed lead private liberal arts colleges. A full list is available here. More presidents have signed since the letter was circulated.

The letter in full:

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.

[Last modified: Friday, November 18, 2016 6:18pm]

    

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