Conn. university president: Academics have duty to express anti-Trump bias

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The president of Wesleyan University in Connecticut has authored an opinion piece arguing that university presidents and other academics have a duty to advocate against Republican nominee Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.

“I do not believe that presidents or other university leaders should normally throw their institutional weight behind a specific public policy or a candidate,” Michael Roth says in a piece published by Inside Higher Ed. But Trump represents such a “grave danger to our political culture,” he says, that ordinary concerns need to be pushed aside. Roth even compares Trump with Hitler.

“Donald Trump has been using the tools characteristic of demagogues and fascists to do the only thing that really matters to him: gaining power,” he says. “He will say anything that he thinks will help him win, and there is no telling what he will do if he is successful.”

Roth compares his decision to a student’s duty to intervene when they witness a fire, safety hazard, or sexual assault.

“When we teach students the skills for bystander intervention, we want them to feel empowered to make our campuses safer, more humane places,” Roth writes. “Donald Trump is a developing calamity for our polity. Whether from conservative, libertarian, religious or leftist positions, we should protect our culture from further Trumpian pollution. Even university presidents, as citizens, must use the tools available to us to sound the alarm as long as the danger threatens.”

Roth admits that he is “another liberal academic” with no “relevant expertise” in politics that justify listening to him.

“But when we ask bystanders to intervene in an unfolding medical emergency, we are not calling on their knowledge of biology,” he says. “When we encourage people to stop a sexual predator from acting, we don’t need them to have law enforcement experience.”

While he’s eager to denounce the dangers of authoritarianism in American politics, Roth has been pursuing his own authoritarian policies at Wesleyan. In recent years, the school banned single-sex fraternities. While this was supposedly an effort to encourage gender equality and prevent sexual assault, private emails by Roth revealed he was also motivated by a desire to shut down the fraternities and seize their campus real estate.

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