Point Park Globe

Faculty write open letter to administration

Written By Josh Croup, Editor-in-Chief

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Members of Point Park’s faculty submitted an open letter Tuesday addressed to President Paul Hennigan and members of administration asking them to address concerns surrounding the recent election of Donald Trump.

Faculty Assembly President Matt Pascal sent the letter to full-time faculty members asking for signatures on the petition to the university. Since then, dozens of students and alumni have also signed the petition.

President Hennigan issued a response two days following the publication of the letter.

The letter in its entirety obtained by the Globe is below.

Open Letter to President Hennigan and University Administrators

Dear President Hennigan and University Administrators,

We write to you in a spirit of collegiality and deep concern.

In light of the recent election results, we are worried for the safety of our students, colleagues, and communities. The policies and culture that president-elect Donald Trump has endorsed have created an atmosphere of palpable fear, particularly among people of color, women, Muslims, documented and undocumented migrants, and those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer.

We sat with our students in the days after the election, listened to their fears, and saw their tears.

Our students of color are afraid that they will be attacked, denigrated, and racially profiled. Our female students are afraid that they will be further objectified, attacked, ignored, and will lose their reproductive rights. Our Muslim students are afraid that they will be attacked and treated as second-class citizens; many fear for the safety of their families both in the US and abroad. Our foreign students are afraid that they will be attacked, discriminated against, and deported. Our LGBTQ students are afraid that they will be attacked, harassed, and lose their rights.

These and many other fears are not unfounded nor were they born on November 8, 2016. But the president-elect’s comments and policy proposals legitimize and institutionalize a culture of misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia.

Several human rights organizations, including the Southern Law Poverty Center, Council on American Islamic Relations, the NAACP, ACLU, and Human Rights Watch have already noted a sharp increase in the number of hate crimes against African Americans, immigrants, Muslims, and people who identify as LGBTQ. Black students at the University of Pennsylvania, for example, recently received racist text messages openly calling for their lynching. Women have reported men threatening to “grab them by the pussy.” A number of acts of bigotry, harassment, and violence against members of the LGBTQ community have been reported as well.

In the wake of these threats to our students, colleagues, and communities, we are concerned by the university’s relative silence on these matters.

We would like the university’s administration to publicly address these threats and respond to several questions that many of us have been holding:

– Is the university planning to take any additional steps on campus and in the public arena to ensure the safety of our minority students, faculty, and staff, many of whom are newly threatened by the Trump administration?

– Does the Counseling Center recognize the impact of offering group therapy for Trump supporters on at-risk students, faculty, staff, and community members?

– Will the university publicly advocate against the proposed policy to immediately deport up to three million undocumented migrants, some of whom may be our students?

– Will the university pledge to make Point Park University a “sanctuary campus” for any and all undocumented students?

– Will the university speak out against the racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia for which the Trump campaign has provided such a legitimizing mouthpiece?

– Will the university speak out in favor of the rights and freedoms of our female students and colleagues?

We are proud to work at a university in which safe spaces for women, people of color, LGBTQ people, international students, and religious minorities already exist. But given the change in atmosphere in the country and the potential changes in policy, we plead with the university’s administration to reinforce a firm no-tolerance stance against hatred, violence, and bigotry of any form, and we ask for your commitment in joining us in taking concrete steps that will ensure that our university and the communities around us are safe spaces for all people.

This is not the time for neutrality or silence.

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The list of signatures, along with the original letter, can be found at the following link: http://bit.ly/2fiI3cq

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