University President Morton Schapiro responded to criticisms of an email sent to students the day after the presidential election, saying he didn’t realize the email did not mention Donald Trump by name.
Schapiro told The Daily he wanted to emphasize the support available for students on campus.
“I just wanted to say we are committed to an inclusive community, and that there are groups that will support you in your distress,” he said.
Although the letter generated some positive feedback, Schapiro said, some parents of students who support Trump reached out to him and complained that Northwestern is not open enough for their children to celebrate the election outcome.
“(Parents were) angry at me and at Northwestern for not giving a safe space — all of a sudden, safe spaces are OK I suppose — a safe space for their children to publicly celebrate his election,” Schapiro said.
Currently, some university presidents are discussing whether they would advise Trump’s administration, Schapiro said. He added that he is not sure whether he would be willing to play a role in advising a Trump administration if the opportunity arose, saying that his position would complicate his decision.
Although several university presidents are discussing petitions and releasing statements about the election, Schapiro said, few are economists with 30 years of advising experience like him.
“(I’m) trying to figure out whether my larger obligation is to try to have a positive impact in a very uncertain world now, or if it’s to sign my name on another petition,” Schapiro said. “And I really don’t know what to do about that.”
To overcome the divisiveness felt among Americans following the election, Schapiro said he hopes students at NU will engage in more open discussions and treat each other with respect. He said it would be nice for everyone to respect each other, something that has not happened at NU or the rest of the country.
Schapiro said the University is doing what it can to create a place where everyone feels respected.
“If we are not completely successful in creating a place where everybody feels safe and protected, that doesn’t mean you throw up your hands and say, ‘Half of America has a different view of the world than many of us on our campus,’” Schapiro said. “You devote yourself to creating a better community.”
When asked about whether NU will become a sanctuary campus, Schapiro said administrators are currently looking at what being a sanctuary would mean for the campus. He said the University has always had programs and made efforts to help students feel safe.
“I think we need to do even more now,” Schapiro said.
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