The American Association of University Professors is concerned about the effect Donald Trump’s presidency will have on academia, according to an open letter the association released Wednesday.
“Certainly, Trump’s campaign has already threatened academic freedom,” the letter stated. “His call for an ‘ideological screening test’ for admission to the United States could make it difficult for universities to attract students and scholars from other countries and to engage in the international exchange of ideas so vital to academic freedom.”
Henry Reichman, the first vice president of the AAUP, said if Trump’s presidency follows the same ideology as his campaign’s, students and teachers alike could be affected.
“The rhetoric he’s used about immigrants, minorities, and women have created an atmosphere in which, whether Trump approves or not, many people have threatened those groups and the diversity of campuses and by implication, the rights of students and also faculty and staff to speak freely without fear or intimidation,” he said.
Reichman said if Trump continues on this same ideological path, colleges and universities can fight back to protect the institution and their students.
“For administrators, they need — and many of them are doing so — to first and foremost ensure the safety of their students and that the students have a welcoming educational environment,” Reichman said.
BU Provost Jean Morrison wrote in an email to The Daily Free Press that the language Trump used during his campaign “included racist, misogynistic and many other deeply troubling statements.”
“While I think the AAUP statement should not have made an inference about how ‘most college and university faculty’ voted, they raise legitimate concerns about the implications of the impending Trump Presidency,” Morrison wrote.
In an email sent to students Thursday, BU President Robert Brown said BU will not change the ideology that the university has stood behind since its beginning.
“Like our country, Boston University will flourish if we adhere to enduring principles that have defined our community for 150 years: respect for all people and their right to free expression, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for reasoned arguments and scientific findings,” Brown said.
Other university administrators held a similar stance; College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ann Cudd wrote in an email to the Free Press, reaffirming the idea that BU will still honor and respect ideas that protect academic freedom, regardless if Trump presides the same way he campaigned.
“At BU, we will continue to honor debate and free speech, while expecting peaceful engagement,” Cudd wrote. “We will seek diversity of thought and background, encourage critical engagement with ideas and accepted platitudes, and we will engage the broader community for the common good.”
Several students said while they were alarmed by what the president-elect said on the campaign trail, they believe that BU is a safe harbor.
Vithika Nag, a junior in the College of Engineering, said Trump’s campaign has opened the doors for more covert racism.
“These things are definitely going to affect the way that people from these minority groups do act out in public, how they feel perceived by Trump supporters or just the general public,” Nag said. “They can’t really be themselves because the majority now is on the other side.”
Phoebe Schmidt, a senior in the College of Communication, said she is concerned for the voices of those who could be suppressed under a Trump presidency if he continues on his current path.
“I have many friends who come from other countries just to study here,” Schmidt said. “To have their voices silenced on campus would be heartbreaking, and I see that as a real threat.”
McKenzie Carpenter, a freshman in CAS, said although the AAUP’s concerns are valid, she believes those concerns will not apply to BU.
“Here at BU, we have a pretty open campus, and obviously we’re pretty diverse,” Carpenter said. “So I don’t think [Trump’s policies] will affect us much.”