As the Collegian recently reported, Dr. Arnn and several Hillsdale College faculty lent their public support to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. They continue to do this despite reports of Trump’s repugnant sexual remarks and alleged actions toward many women.
I believe this reflects poorly on the college.
While I understand that the views of administrators do not represent the entire faculty or amount to an official endorsement from the college as an institution, the inclusion of the school’s president among these endorsers attaches the Hillsdale name and reputation to Donald Trump. Dr. Arnn is the public face of the school, appearing in video and radio ads and promotions. Fairly or not, his words affect the perception of this institution.
More than the endorsement itself, Dr. Arnn’s defense of Trump against indictments of his character is disturbing. According to the Collegian, when asked how he would react if a student made remarks similar to Trump’s, Arnn responded, “I would regret it. If, however, one of our students becomes a real estate billionaire, I will be happy for us all. I do not dislike everything about Trump’s private life, just some things.”
Am I to understand that, in Arnn’s view, becoming a rich businessman is a counterpoint to bragging about sexual assault? Perhaps I am misreading his statement or missing important context, but the idea that material success and moral depravity should be weighed on the same scale is heinous.
This defense is particularly offensive in light of Hillsdale’s stated mission and principles. Hillsdale College’s mission statement claims that it “maintains ‘by precept and example’ the immemorial teachings and practices of the Christian faith.” Hillsdale’s Honor Code binds students to be “honorable in conduct, honest in word and deed, dutiful in study and service, and respectful of the rights of others.” Hillsdale’s motto invokes virtue and the struggle to achieve it.
I do not understand how men claiming to espouse these principles can endorse and defend a politician so devoid of any of them.
Under the tutelage of this school’s faculty, I cultivated a desire to pursue the higher things to value wisdom over status, and to hold personal character paramount. When, as an alumnus, I see members of that same faculty make political statements that fly in the face of these, it disappoints me.
The Hillsdale I see represented by Dr. Arnn and these faculty is not the Hillsdale I know and love.
Isaac Morrison, ’14