Mitchell: President Schapiro, your statement trivializes my fear

Jade Mitchell, Op-Ed Contributor

As a junior, I’ve received my fair share of Morty emails addressing current events. But his statement in response to the election rubs me the wrong way.

Part of the statement read: “The results of yesterday’s presidential election surprised almost everyone, including those of us in the Northwestern community. For some, it may have been a pleasant surprise, but for others it undoubtedly is a cause of great concern. And for many, it brought a sense of relief that this bitter and divisive campaign is finally over. I hope all of us now can set aside whatever differences may have occurred during the campaign and continue to do what the University does best: teach, learn, discover and reflect.”

This excerpt came from an email sent out by Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro on Nov. 9, vaguely titled “The Election and the University.” I do not know if Morty actually drafts up these statements himself or if it is the unfortunate job of someone else. But regardless of who wrote it, shame on you.

Let us start first with this statement: “For some, it may have been a pleasant surprise…”

The words “pleasant” and “cause of great concern” are incredibly trivializing to the experiences of students of color and other marginalized groups in this campus. More appropriate words include: horrid, disgusting, terrifying and infuriating, to name a few.

There is no condemnation of Donald Trump in Morty’s statement, though it is absolutely warranted. Any student on this campus who voted for Trump condones a candidate who has made it clear that he hates me, as a Black woman, and everything I stand for along with many other students on this campus. Trump voters are a danger to my presence on this campus and my education. There is fear within our communities, as Trump supporters have already been shown to be reckless and dangerous.

Now on to the next point: “I hope all of us now can set aside whatever differences may have occurred during the campaign and continue to do what the University does best: teach, learn, discover and reflect.”

The differences that have occurred during this campaign are not schoolyard issues, Morty. It’s not a trivial disagreement over whether you pour the milk before or after the cereal. As a Black woman, many Trump supporters literally do not believe in my personhood. Trump wants to strip my rights to my own body and believes my quality of life must be horrible because, according to him, all Black people in America live in poverty.

So no, I cannot put aside our differences. You want us to continue business as usual, suck it up and keep going through the rigorous environment at NU. But students of color and marginalized groups on campus deserve to have our fear validated and acknowledged.

Step out of your bubble of privilege and be the University President you claim to be. Support your students who are struggling, check your students who are letting their privilege and bigotry run rampant. Have empathy for your students who are unsure about their future and are fearful for their lives and loved ones. Make sure your faculty is understanding toward students who are in emotional turmoil right now.

Following the words highlighted in your statement, do what the University does best: teach, learn, discover and reflect.

Teach this campus to be more tolerant and empathetic to marginalized groups.

Learn to properly address the trauma being inflicted on these groups.

Discover and implement useful resources to support this trauma.

Reflect on how your privilege sometimes make you ineffective in dealing with issues and work to deconstruct it.

Do better, Morty.

Jade Mitchell is a Weinberg junior. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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