By Michelle Adams, Editor in Chief
In response to the diverse reactions from the Shenandoah community regarding the results of the recent presidential election, University President Tracy Fitzsimmons announced in an email Friday that she is one of over 100 college administrators from across the United States who signed a non-partisan letter to Trump.
The letter, which Fitzsimmons said in her message to the campus community, “aligns well with Shenandoah University’s commitment to being an institution of advocacy, justice, responsibility and compassion,” calls for Trump’s public condemnation of the acts of “harassment, hate, and…violence,” that it claims are taking place throughout the nation, “sometimes” in his name.
“One of the roles of leaders is to protect and empower the most vulnerable,” the letter reads. “As President-elect, this responsibility rests heavily on you. Let this be a mark of your leadership.”
The full text of Fitzsimmons’s email to students, faculty, and staff, and the letter to Trump are posted below.
“As we enter into Thanksgiving week, I am grateful for the continued warm weather and the bursts of colorful leaves that remain on the trees. I am grateful for the break, during which we can all catch our breath, eat heartily, rest and prepare for upcoming exams. And as a college president and political scientist, I am grateful and mindful that we live in a democracy where our students can register their well-thought-out preferences by voting for the candidates of their choice. It is a country where, in a post-election period, students can participate in the political system by celebrating civilly, protesting peacefully, and using their strong analytical skills to understand the how and why of the electoral outcome.
As I gathered with members of the university’s administration on the morning of November 9, we engaged in an important conversation about how we thought the 2016 presidential election results would affect members of our university community. We acknowledged that, just as we saw our country split between candidates, within our university community there are individuals on both sides of the aisle and everywhere in between – many with very strong feelings about the direction our country will move in as we navigate the next four years.
While the meeting was in progress, we continuously received messages from members of our community, particularly from students, discussing ways in which they were already organizing to support one another and come together to move forward in unity. I was encouraged that what I know in my heart was confirmed… ours is a community of individuals who respect one another and care for one another, regardless of political affiliations and policy stances. And ours is a community that expects and demands that we treat each other with kindness.
It has been amazing to see the good work all of you have done over the past week and a half. Forums, discussions, community service projects – all centered around the Shenandoah University values of inclusiveness, respect and understanding. We have worked together to build that type of atmosphere so that all may feel welcome and safe at a university which places great value on educating, inspiring and protecting all of its community members. We are, after all, a family – and we are a family that has each other’s backs.
I want to let you know that I am one of more than 100 college and university presidents who have signed the attached non-partisan letter to President-elect Trump, which aligns well with Shenandoah University’s commitment to being an institution of advocacy, justice, responsibility and compassion. The full text of the letter is also copied below my signature line.
I would encourage all members of the Shenandoah University community – students, faculty and staff – to continue the positive dialogue that has already been happening on our campus. There are a great number of opportunities to come together in a respectful manner to discuss how we move forward, together – while recognizing that the diversity, quality and compassion of our university community are what make us, as one parent told me earlier this fall, Shenandoah Strong.”
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.