114 UCCS profs signed a letter protesting a Trump rally on campus in Colorado Springs

114 UCCS profs signed a letter protesting a Trump rally on campus in Colorado Springs

 

More than 100 professors at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs have signed a letter protesting Donald Trump’s Friday appearance on their campus.

Led by philosophy professor Jeff Scholes and sociology professor Jeff Montez de Oca, the effort started Wednesday morning once word got out about the event, which marks Trump’s second time in Colorado in the past month.

The letter, obtained by The Colorado Independent, reads in part:

Our issues with Mr. Trump are twofold. First, Mr. Trump has repeatedly made public statements that are either not supported by any reasonable amount of empirical evidence or are reliant on selective samples. For instance, Mr. Trump has repeatedly stated that crime in the United States is rising and that we live in a society that is growing more dangerous. A preponderance of evidence at the nationwide level contradicts that claim; but more importantly, Trump then uses such specious reasoning to fuel fear of certain minority groups.

In recent days, the Trump campaign has swung through the battleground states of Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio. The candidate is scheduled to speak at 2 p.m. at the Gallogly Event Center at UCCS located at 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway in the Springs. Doors open at 11 a.m., and parking is notoriously tricky.

The purpose of the faculty letter, Scholes told The Independent, is not to protest anyone’s right to speak on a public university campus, but to “condemn the content of the rhetoric that Mr. Trump has used since announcing his bid for Presidency.”

Scholes said he and others didn’t want to idly stand by, given the “rhetoric of exclusion” championed by the Republican Party’s nominee for president throughout his campaign.

Montez de Oca, the sociology professor, tells The Independent he takes issue with the way Trump frames his arguments or manipulates statistics.

“That sort of use of language in that way absolutely contradicts the goals of academia, the ways in which we pursue truth,” he says.

The letter further addresses how Trump’s “unsubstantiated statements have been used to impugn entire groups of people, such as Muslims, Mexicans, women, and disabled people in divisive ways.”

Faculty members delivered their letter to UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak earlier today.  

July 28, 2016

Dear Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak,

With the pending visit of the Republican nominee for President, Donald J. Trump, to the University of Colorado Colorado Springs on Friday July 29, 2016, the signers of this letter, as faculty of UCCS, feel the need to offer a public response to Mr. Trump’s presence on our campus. This letter does not claim to represent all UCCS faculty or the university, only the individuals who have endorsed its message.

To be clear, UCCS is a public university and, as such, it is an institution that reveres free speech. As university faculty, we not only recognize Mr. Trump’s legal right to speak on our campus, but also embrace the productive dialogue about U.S. and global politics that the event will no doubt inspire. But we as faculty similarly have the right and obligation to express our own professional consciences, especially as it pertains to events occurring at our place of work.

While we recognize Mr. Trump’s right to speak at UCCS and at other public venues, we strongly condemn the content and tone of much of the rhetoric that Mr. Trump has used since announcing his bid for Presidency.

Our issues with Mr. Trump are twofold. First, Mr. Trump has repeatedly made public statements that are either not supported by any reasonable amount of empirical evidence or are reliant on selective samples. For instance, Mr. Trump has repeatedly stated that crime in the United States is rising and that we live in a society that is growing more dangerous. A preponderance of evidence at the nationwide level contradicts that claim; but more importantly, Trump then uses such specious reasoning to fuel fear of certain minority groups.

Second, Mr. Trump’s unsubstantiated statements have been used to impugn entire groups of people, including Muslims, Mexicans, women, and disabled people. We contend that his divisive language prevents the kind of civil discourse that is the life blood of a democratic society. Mr. Trump’s claim that the majority of immigrants from Mexico are criminals, including murderers and rapists, is contradicted by documented evidence. Similarly, Mr. Trump’s call for the use of torture would contravene the United Nations Convention against Torture.

Likewise, UCCS’ stance on diversity and inclusiveness states that we “must be inclusive of everyone” in order to combat “legacies of advantage and disadvantage,” which accords wit Article 10 of the University of Colorado’s nondiscrimination policy. We honor the spirit of former CU president George Norlin, who took a courageous stand against racial and religious discrimination based on ideals that our university continues to uphold.

We censure any statement made by Mr. Trump (or any other person) that can be classified in these two ways. As faculty of a university that prides itself on the encouragement of free speech and the productive discourse that can follow, we reject the reckless use of language that supports silencing anyone on our campus—even as we respect the right to speak such words.

In a public letter of her own, Chancellor Shockley-Zalabak wrote “Many faculty, staff, and students have expressed disappointment and anger at Mr. Trump’s appearance on our campus.”

She said she’d been asked whether “Mr. Trump’s appearance on campus creates a hostile environment in a manner that would violate other federal laws,” and responded that political speech is protected under the First Amendment.

The school has worked to provide adequate security, she said, and no permits will be needed to protest on the grounds.

Ringed by five area military installations and home to the evangelical Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs area is one of the most heavily conservative parts of the country.

[Photo credit: UCCS]

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

10 Comments

  1. MC on said:

    I like how they say that they disagree with having Trump speak at “their” university. Last I checked, it’s a state University and doesn’t belong to the self-absorbed, entitled professors.
    For educated people they don’t appear tobe very smart.

  2. Susie on said:

    I am offended by these liberal brain washers who are on the government dole, pontificating about how they are offended that there is going to be a free speech event on the campus that is paid for by our tax dollars. They, and their liberal system, are why the kids have student loans and worthless degrees. Those who can do and those who can’t become worthless liberal arts professors. They do not earn the money we pay them and we need to clean out the universities of worthless courses and professors. A good example is Elizabeth Warren.

  3. Thomas Andreas on said:

    So if a conservative protests and calls Clinton names, it is ok but if these professors (of which, may I remind readers we do not know their political leanings) say something, they are cry babies and violators of the 1st Amendment? Double standards don’t look good on anyone, least of all on name callers who refuse to pony up facts to support their claims.

  4. Dion on said:

    Love to see a place of higher learning trying to oppress someone with a different opinion than themselves!! That is what college is about! The sharing of ideas!!I guess not for these professors!!

  5. Fin Denver on said:

    Holy crap. Where were all of you when educators were at risk of being censored in Jefferson County Public Schools, last year? I don’t recognize a one of you. Can you say “woodwork?”

    Where are you in the fray of Douglas County Schools- public institutions that should be returned to the public–, where Academic freedom has been curtailed, nay, incinerated by a pillar of fire, since 2009?

    Agreed, where is the reading comprehension?

    All y’all’s gripes against the teachers really isn’t that important. And the discussion about free speech is irrelevant. The letter raises their concern about DJT’s style. The letter doesn’t say he shouldn’t be allowed down there.

    Reading comprehension. Determining relevance. Ad hominem fallacy (all over the place). Red herring (like mad).

    Know what I’m sayin’?

  6. Bruce R McCluggage on said:

    Wow, it’s sad the comments left in here (esp. from ones like ‘Susie, July 28, 6:54pm) but it may be an accurate picture of what is happening on a grander scale across the nation with groups of people literally talking past each other either because of pure emotional reaction or simply not taking the time to understand accurately the context.

    Case in point — Susie’s rant. She only read the headline but obviously did not read the article nor the full letter the profs signed onto. In the meantime all of her prejudices/discriminations she feels toward higherEd are splashed out for all to see. Others with similar prejudices chime in, but the ones who took the time to READ the full article simply shake our heads at such belligerence and child-like behavior and thinking.

    Meanwhile, the trumpeter has gotten another to play his song.

  7. wasntme on said:

    “For instance, Mr. Trump has repeatedly stated that crime in the United States is rising and that we live in a society that is growing more dangerous. A preponderance of evidence at the nationwide level contradicts that claim; but more importantly, Trump then uses such specious reasoning to fuel fear of certain minority groups.”

    The FBI agrees with Mr. Trump, where does the faculty of UCCS get their data from?

    https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/preliminary-semiannual-uniform-crime-report-januaryjune-2015/tables/table-3

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  9. Bruce R McCluggage on said:

    @wasntme. Thank you for leaving the website of FBI crime statistics. Interesting your conclusion claiming these stats ‘agree with’ Trump’s fear-based position on ‘rising crime rates.’ They do not…unless you do what the trumpeter does–Cherry Pick ’em.

    Case in point. The FBI stats are inter-agency, across-the-board %year-to-year changes from 2011 to 2015. Take the most recent Violent Crime stat (includes murder, rape, robbery and agg-assault) from 2014-2015 that rose 1.7%. That’s it? THIS is what the Trumpeter is all upset about? A whopping 1.7% rise in violent crime from the year 2014 to 2015 (again, most recent FBI stat)!! Little Donald goes out to the cherry trees with his little basket to pick his cherries…and he finds one already laying on the ground.

    Anyone care to read the REST of this FBI report? I did…for half an hour. Interpretation of data is what counts in determining REALITY. Looking at the whole is termed ‘being FAIR to the data.’ Utilizing additional recent years to compare, as well as additional major crimes to contrast are helpful to avoid ‘cherry-picking.’

    And what do we find? That violent crime stats have gone DOWN in 2 of the 3 prior years. Other major crimes? even more so…4 out of 5 categories show levels have DROPPED in the most recent reporting year, and have gone DOWN on average in 3 of the last 4 years. But we need to also ask ourselves — by HOW MUCH? Again, this helps avoid cherry-picking stats.

    Let’s look at the key major stat of Violent crime again — it’s gone up in 2 of the last 4 years…so it’s 50-50, right? Wrong. Take the exact %numbers for each year and add them up…+1.9, -5.4, -4.6 and +1.7. TOTAL= -6.4%. Therefore, as a WHOLE in the last four years, crime has DECREASED. And for comparison to the most recent year stat, violent crime has DECREASED by 4X the amount of the +1.7% stat that the Chicken-Little Donald may be clucking out for all his new alarmist RNC friends.

    If you’re also a Chicken-Little clucker, you really don’t want to stop and check the other 5 categories of major crime stats when measured as a whole. 80% are in double-figures (10% or more) when it comes to DECREASED crime %’s when totaled up for the last four reporting years on this most recent FBI report. It’s ok, Chicken’Little, the sky really ain’t a-fallin.’

    This was actually a fun research exercise for me as an educator. And I will probably use this as a lesson in epistemology (the critical study of knowledge) in my philosophy classes I teach this coming fall’16 semester. While the cherries and feathers are flying this election season, would you care to join me?

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