In crafting the persona of the presidential candidates, media outlets have emphasized the role higher education has played in the development of both Secretary of State Clinton and Donald Trump. The relationships between the Presidential candidates and their respective undergraduate institutions have, in turn, motivated discussions among students at Wellesley and the University of Pennsylvania. In its last edition, the Wellesley News endorsed Secretary Clinton and appraised her relationship to the college. Meanwhile, as the newspaper of Donald Trump’s undergraduate institution, The Daily Pennsylvanian Opinion Board has a responsibility to discuss its relationship — or lack thereof — with the candidate and his values.
Donald Trump has, in the past, brought up his education at Wharton to qualify his intelligence and capability, however, overall campus sentiment toward Trump remains negative, and he has been protested both at Penn’s campus and in the wider Penn community.
While The Wellesley News proudly declares Hillary as an alumna, the Wellesley News would like to articulate that its support for her is not based entirely on this identification, but on her experience, tenacity and sound policies. Despite political variance, most students at Wellesley support Secretary Clinton in this election.
Donald trump flaunts his Wharton degree. In a July 11 speech in Phoenix, AZ, he boasted that “I went to the Wharton School of Finance … I’m, like, a really smart person.” However, Over 3,800 Penn students, graduates, parents, partners and family members have signed a petition stating,“You [Trump] do not represent us.” This petition expresses an “[outrage] that an affiliation with [the] school is being used to legitimize prejudice and intolerance,” and that it expresses their “unequivocal stance against the xenophobia, sexism, racism, and other forms of bigotry that [Trump has] actively and implicitly endorsed in [his] campaign.”
The petition has been followed by other forms of protest. For example, on Oct 11, a group of students called We Are Watching staged a feminist art protest entitled “YOUR BODY, YOUR BALLOT” to promote voter registration and actively disassociate from Trump on the basis of his sexist and discriminatory rhetoric. The protest aimed to “make a statement that the students of Trump’s alma mater reject his candidacy for president on the basis of his hateful behavior, speech, and actions,” Penn junior Amanda Silberling told The Huffington Post.
This well-received protest speaks to the Penn community’s general consensus that Trump fails to represent the current Penn student body and its values. Penn students reflect a diverse, eclectic mix of interests and beliefs, but above all they seek to respect and understand each other’s differences. Detaching ourselves from this candidate who shares the Penn alma mater is both necessary and natural.
At Wellesley, the student support for Clinton is neither unconditional, nor is it nested in her affiliation with Wellesley. Rather, while Trump bases his campaign on racist, sexist and xenophobic rhetoric, Clinton has proposed feasible policies that the Wellesley campus supports, including protections for immigrants, people of color, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and women.
Throughout her career and her many years of public service, Clinton has exemplified the Wellesley motto, “Non Ministrari sed Ministrare”, or “not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” She worked at the Children’s Defense Fund and has been a strong advocate for women’s rights throughout the world. She served children and families through pro bono legal work, published several legal reviews, and has pushed for health care reform throughout the decades. She served as a First Lady, two-term senator in New York and Secretary of State. When looking at her professional and personal history, it is clear that Clinton not only upholds the values of Wellesley College, but defines them.
Though Secretary Clinton embodies her alma mater’s institutional values, Mr. Trump does not. It is clear that Mr. Trump has failed to dignify the morals of his institution. Penn’s motto, “Quid leges sine moribus vanae proficient,” translates to “of what avail are empty laws without (good) morals.” In evaluating Donald Trump through this context, the Opinion Board cannot say that his actions attest to his ‘good morals’: he does not embody the spirit of the school.
Students at any institution look up to prominent alumni as models for their futures. We, at The Daily Pennsylvanian, are concerned about the precedent that Donald Trump sets for our fellow peers and how he chooses to leverage his affiliation to Penn to the rest of the world. His divisive policies are not only orthogonal to those of Penn, but of democracy. Comparatively, Secretary Hillary Clinton, time and time again, has embodied pragmatic leadership and service, and, more importantly, the desire and capacity to both listen and respond to the needs of a diverse society.
Certainly, we cannot expect every alum to personify the values of their undergraduate institutions. However, when politicians leverage their academic affiliations as credentials, they come to represent the students of those institutions. Each student, alum, and faculty member is then responsible to critique that representation. While the Wellesley News has endorsed its alumna, Secretary Clinton, The Daily Pennsylvanian Opinion Board does not and will not condone the bigotry perpetuated by Mr. Trump.