The evening of Nov. 8 felt to us as it felt for millions of Americans: like an awful nightmare. We spent the days leading up to the election canvassing for Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 with a group of friends and Yalies in Las Vegas, Nevada. On the ground in Clark County, an area developed significantly during the Bush building boom, the idea of a Trump victory still seemed avoidable. Indeed, the Democrats held on to win Nevada. But this victory was an outlier in yet another election year in which “Change” won.
Since Nov. 8, our despair has given way to steely resolve. Our energy has shifted to firm commitment to stand up for the change we believe in, including clean energy, access to high-quality public education, well-paying jobs and protection of civil liberties in our long march toward equality. But each day, as the Trump Cabinet further congeals, our fears that the president-elect does not share these American values become more real. Individual appointments are introduced with all the suspense of a reality television show. But what isn’t a laughing matter is the fact that many of these individuals have histories of decrying the programs administered by the very agencies they now oversee, not to mention personal views that are often racist and xenophobic.
We believe that a chorus of voices from all parts of society, but especially from college campuses, is needed to respond to these threats to our democracy. As Yale alumni, we appreciate the value the University places on respectful discourse comprising different viewpoints. But Yale also taught us that leaders lead by example. The threats posed by Trump’s appointees merit widespread public outcry and denouncement from leaders of institutions that promote free speech and equal opportunity. American universities are institutional symbols of hope and change — they are part of the fabric of what has made our country not only great, but as Hillary Clinton would say, “also good.” Our universities are beacons of light and truth for millions around the world who seek the American dream and see education as their path toward enlightenment and a brighter future.
By proudly speaking out, without fear of tweeted retribution from @realdonaldtrump, Yale can affirm its vow to parents and students from around the world: that the university will do its part to provide a loving sanctuary and cherish and nurture every person who stands in its hallways.
For these reasons, we have drafted an open letter to University President Peter Salovey to help identify specific actions Yale can lead on. The letter has, to date, gathered signatures from more than 300 students, faculty and alumni, and will remain open for signature. We encourage every Yalie who reads this to sign today. The letter hails Yale’s efforts to advance diversity and inclusion on campus and highlights instances in which these efforts have been bridged to issues playing out on the national stage.
Our letter urges President Salovey to take action to show Yale’s leadership on free speech and equal opportunity. Specifically, we request he affixes his name to an Open Letter to Trump, which has already been signed by over 100 college and university presidents. In addition, we call on President Salovey to respond affirmatively to the existing call to make Yale a sanctuary campus by developing a protocol for protecting undocumented community members from law enforcement. Finally, we expect President Salovey to publicly denounce any and all attempts to discriminate against marginalized groups.
As alums who dwelled in the Elm City between 2003 and 2013, we are assured that students will soon be sketching names of new candidates on Old Campus walkways. We Bulldogs are both dreamers and doers, and we won’t be suppressed by a dark election cycle. But in the meantime, we hope that Yale’s leaders will inspire us with their actions.
Nathaniel Hundt is a 2007 graduate of Yale College and a 2013 graduate of the School of Management. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Vrinda Manglik is a 2014 graduate of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Contact her at email@example.com.