By Jeff Simpson
I sent Beloit College, President Bierman expressing my dismay that Diane Hendricks is a Trustee of Beloil Colleeg and also VP of the Trump Victory Fund.
This is President Bierman's response to me:
Dear Jeff, Thanks very much for your note. I can easily appreciate your perspective. Having said that, I do not agree that the college should be severing relationships with members of the community who support the presumptive republican candidate for president. If I understand your argument, it is that being on a board that supports Beloit College and on a board that supports Mr. Trump constitutes a conflict of principles. In my decades of citizenship, it is likely that nearly every single presidential candidate has said things or done things that can be interpreted as being at odds with key college principles. I think making decisions about what college relationships pass a principles test based on politically charged interpretations is dangerous. Furthermore, I do not see why your argument would only apply to joint “board” membership and not to other joint relationships. I guess there is a “visibility” case you are making about being on two boards (e.g. the alleged damage to the college’s reputation), but that seems thin at best. In my opinion, this makes a principles test even more dangerous. On a different note, it is worth saying, that in the time that Diane Hendricks has served on Beloit’s Board of Trustees she has embraced and supported the college’s mission in every way. There is no exception. It is with great pride that I call Diane a member of the Beloit College family. Thanks again, Jeff, for reaching out. Sincerely,Scott
Dear President Bierman,
Thank you for replying to my letter stating my concerns with Ms. Hendricks representing Beloit College as a Trustee. While I vehemently disagree with Ms. Hendricks politics, this has nothing to do with politics. You notice I did not send this letter while she was donating millions to our Governor and hundreds of thousands of dollars to his legal defense fund. She has a right to her opinions and beliefs. I support that fully and while I will work individually to make sure her candidates lose, I would never seek to deny her any position outside of the political spectrum.
However, I truly believe that the reason that supporting Donald Trump so publicly is a conflict of interest for Beloit College because the vitriol that Donald Trump brings is almost unprecedented in our history. I am sure I do not need to rundown his offenses for you but let me just touch on a few.
Donald Trump started the original "birther movement" where he tried to discredit the first African American President in our History as not being a "Real American."; Has called most Mexicans who have crossed the border, Drug dealers and rapists(although did allow wiggle room by sayings some of them are possibly ok). has had visions of dating his daughter, has continually shamed women and treated them as second hand citizens, has called for the deportation of all Muslims, has promised to build a wall between the USA and Mexico. derided Senator McCain for getting captured in Vietnam, and mocked a disabled reporter.
Nothing in that list, is (I hope) partisan at all. It is about Ignorance and hate not Democrats and Republicans.
On February 27th of last year, there were racial incidences around Beloit College, where you addressed the problem of racism on campus by starting a campus wide initiatiev initiative of "Inclusive excellence".
Then you had this to sau in your Spring 2015 Beloit Magazine:
These have been some of the hardest weeks I’ve known in my career. To see students, faculty, and staff I admire stung by overt acts of racism, and then hurt by my own mistakes and shortcomings has been hard.While these kind of incidents have happened all over the country, it has also happened in our own backyard. Latina members of the Beloit Memorial women's soccer team were greeted with calls of "Donald Trump Build that wall" by the opposing team recently.
But, discomfort needs to be converted into thoughtful action and sustained change.
There are many on this campus who feel or have felt embattled, endangered and excluded. Some of them are our people of color. Others have been women (and yes, men) who were sexually assaulted by classmates and friends. Many of these came to Beloit believing this would be the place where they could finally, totally be themselves—only to find that acceptance fleeting or incomplete.
Beloit Memorial girls soccer coach Brian Denu said the Elkhorn students taunted black and Latina girls soccer players with racial slurs and chants like "Donald Trump, build that wall."I would argue that these kind of incidences are worse than racist Graffiti, because now that the GOP nominee for President has made it "OK" to say things like this in public, the racists no longer need the cover of darkness to hide their hate.
"Those are just words you'll never be able to take back from those kids and an experience that you wish you could take back," Denu said. "It was really disturbing for them."
Denu said the chants affected some of his players to the point they had to leave the game.
"They came off the field and weren't able to finish the game because they were too upset and distraught over what happened to them," Denu said. "One of the girls was cradled in the arms of one of our assistant coaches for a good 15 to 20 minutes."
Denu said even though the chants came from a small group of Elkhorn students, their words had a big impact on his players.
"I could just see the hurt and pain on their face and know that this was obviously something that they hadn't seen before," Denu said. "You know, it was from a small pocket of the Elkhorn fans, but those words are things you can't take back."
Denu said he and other coaches consoled players during and after the game.
As you know, the Beloit community is very diverse:
The Beloit College community is diverse and noted for its passionate engagement with ideas and the world. Its 1250 students are from nearly every state, the District of Columbia, and 40 nations. Twenty-seven percent of its students are domestic minorities or students from countries other than the United States. No more than ten percent of a graduating class is represented in any one of Beloit's majors.All of this and Mr. Trump seems to be getting more extreme by the day. The whole world is watching us as a country to see how we treat Mr. Trump.
The Beloit College community, our children, friends and community members are watching to see if the College makes the right decision here and stands up for our friends and community. who Mr. Trump has decided to attack.
As you once said:
We owe them better than that. Beloit can do something. We will do something. Tomorrow can be a great day to be a Beloiter.
Tomorrow is here today! Let's do something!
Have a great day,