There’s an open letter addressed to Hillsdale College that is making the rounds on social media — a letter that essentially accuses the college of participating in, or at the very least not preventing, racism. Surprisingly, this letter was penned by a Hillsdale grad and signed by dozens of others.
The author wants Hillsdale to speak up on matters of systemic injustice, racism, and brutality, as have many others universities and corporations over the past few weeks. And in a way, she’s right. The continued protests over George Floyd’s death and Congress’s impending action on law enforcement reform make it clear that now is precisely the right time to advance the principles of equality and justice — principles Hillsdale has always stood for, even when it was not popular to do so.
The author of the open letter acknowledges Hillsdale’s work towards civil rights and equality, but then says that this is not enough. Why? Because Hillsdale has not publicly commented on the matters of the day, namely, the Black Lives Matter movement or the reforms its activists have proposed. This silence, states the letter, is evidence that the college has “abandoned its founding principles” and consented to “white supremacy” and the “tyranny of our militarized police force.”
Such accusations should be backed by substance. But as far as evidence goes, the letter provides very little. Indeed, the only proof the author offers is, again, Hillsdale’s “silence.” This is nonsense. We do not expect the college to release a statement explaining its position on murder, nor do we require its faculty members to take turns publicly disavowing sexism. But I have yet to see an open letter from alumni accusing the college of condoning either sin. And that’s because Hillsdale’s position on both murder and sexism is plainly evident to anyone familiar with the school — and so is its position on racism.
Which is why this letter was so disappointing. Each name on that list knows the school and what it represents. As graduates, we of all people know that Hillsdale values individual liberty, equality for all, and justice as it is due. Hillsdale is not perfect, and it never will be. But to characterize the entire school, and the many faculty members who have built it, of complicit racism is shockingly unfair.
The fact is that the college advances equality’s cause day in and day out — not by publicly siding with a social-justice-driven movement, or by posting a black box on social media, or by caving to a collective narrative that erases the concept of personal responsibility, but by teaching individual students to pursue truth, to love it, and to use this truth to influence the hearts and minds of others. This has always been the college’s mission, and every single current and former student is a testament to its success.
Kaylee McGhee is a 2019 graduate of Hillsdale College.