Guest column: My first encounter with Trumpism at GVSU

By George Lundskow | 12/4/16 11:08pm

The University Academic Senate was discussing Grand Valley State University's commitment to its own principles Friday, Dec. 2, those of equal opportunity and inclusion. In light of the recent election, should the senate issue some kind of statement? I wanted to make the point that, given Donald Trump’s comments about immigrants, women, Muslims and others, as well as the words and actions of his proposed cabinet and advisers, I think that…(I was then shouted down by apparent Trump supporters).

That’s right. Shouted down by other GVSU faculty. Bullied into silence. Their reasons are understandable—Trump ran against inclusion. He ran against equality. He ran against mind over might. He ran against everything that GVSU stands for. He ran in favor of racism, misogyny, ethnocentrism, Islamophobia and anti-science. He is assembling a grotesque clique of cabinet secretaries and advisers to turn his campaign promises of mass persecution, deportation, public disinvestment and privatization into reality. Will he go to war with the entire Islamic world? This is the essence of Trumpism—bigotry and ignorant aggression.

Fortunately, GVSU is already moving in a better direction. I commend President Thomas Haas and his team for, among other things, providing in-state tuition and university aid to any student, regardless of citizenship status, who graduates from a Michigan high school and meets aid criteria. Furthermore, this eligibility extends for 28 months following high school or community college graduation. As the admissions website says, “Grand Valley State University encourages the application and enrollment of undocumented students who are prepared to meet the challenges of a rigorous university curriculum.”

I was especially proud to learn that GVSU is the only Michigan campus which advocates for increased support for Hispanic and Latino\a undocumented and DACA students regarding access, affordability and success. Haas’ decisions show integrity and courage, especially in the current political climate, to stand up for human decency and the lives of all people. This is the kind of leadership we need. I hope the faculty will find similar fortitude and stand up to Trumpism here at GVSU. Officially supporting GVSU’s principles of inclusion is the least we as faculty can do.

Some would say that the senate is not the right forum for political discussion. How then, do we talk about a political issue, without being political? I don’t know. And for the record, the point I never got to make was that I think that many groups of people have very real and objective reasons for feeling fearful about their future. The senate should therefore publicly endorse GVSU's already-stated values.

If standing up for people who face marginalization and Trumpist aggression is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

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