Thousands of students and alumni of the Wharton School have a message for alumnus Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee: You do not represent us.
Trump often cites his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, as he did in a speech last summer, saying: “I’m really smart. Went to the Wharton school of finance. Even then, long time ago, like the hardest, or one of the hardest, schools to get into.”
The open letter published on Medium begins “At the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, students are taught to represent the highest levels of respect and integrity. We are taught to embrace humility and diversity. We can understand why, in seeking America’s highest office, you have used your degree from Wharton to promote and lend legitimacy to your candidacy …” but “we have been deeply disappointed by your candidacy.”
The letter says they are “outraged that an affiliation with our school is being used to legitimize prejudice and intolerance. Although we do not aim to make any political endorsements with this letter, we do express our unequivocal stance against the xenophobia, sexism, racism, and other forms of bigotry that you have actively and implicitly endorsed in your campaign.”
Within days after it was posted, the letter had more than 3,000 digital signatures by Tuesday afternoon.
A spokesman for Wharton declined to comment on the letter, which does not speak for the Ivy League university or the school’s undergraduate or graduate programs, but only the students, alumni and faculty who have signed it.
A spokeswoman for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Trump has repeatedly denied that he is bigoted. “I love the Mexican people. … I love them!” he said in that same 2015 speech in Phoenix. And, “I’m more inclusive than anybody,” he said, and repeated it for emphasis.
Someone posted to the same website, Medium, that after analyzing the signatures, eliminating those who remained anonymous, names without a graduation year and duplicates from the final count, fewer than a thousand names remained, and concluded, “The signatories to this open letter do not represent Wharton.”
But many who signed on felt unequivocal about the letter. They pointed to remarks Trump has made — for example when he announced his campaign last summer, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” — that they found offensive.
The co-authors of the letter, who asked to remain anonymous to allow the letter to speak for all those who signed, said in a statement to The Post that it was important to write the letter because, “Throughout this presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s education at Wharton has been used as a part of a platform to promote prejudice and intolerance. It was important for us to speak out against Trump because, as we have seen in many moments throughout history, silence is an act of complicity. This open letter speaks on behalf of Wharton students, alumni, and faculty who wish to speak out against hate and stand in solidarity with all members of our diverse community — both at Wharton and across America.”
They provided comments that some people made when signing, including: “I am a board member of College Republicans at Penn. I am horrified by Donald Trump’s statements and actions over this past year. Not only does he fail to represent Wharton, he fails to stand for both conservative and, more importantly, American values. A center right Republican, I strongly support this statement.”
Zachary Browne, an entrepreneur from the Class of 2012 at Wharton, said he signed on after reading the letter. “I had an amazing experience at Penn and Wharton, and one of the reasons was because I went to school with a lot of diverse interesting people from many places around the world. I guess I was just a little disheartened and embarrassed about the comments Trump was making. … I felt it didn’t really represent the school or its people.”
Aria Florant, who is enrolled in a joint MBA-Master’s of Public Administration degree with Wharton and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, said it was “a no-brainer” to sign the letter because of her convictions about this election. “To me what’s most important to prioritize is that all different people,” regardless of race, religion, ethnicty, “feel like they belong in this country, they’re connected, they’re valued. Trump has really damaged that. To me, that is my priority right now.”
She said she hopes the letter “will counter some of the hate that he has been preaching, remind society that it’s not O.K. …
“I just feel now is really not the time to be silent.”
Read more of the letter here:
You Do Not Represent Us: An Open Letter to Donald Trump
Dear Mr. Trump:
At the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, students are taught to represent the highest levels of respect and integrity. We are taught to embrace humility and diversity. We can understand why, in seeking America’s highest office, you have used your degree from Wharton to promote and lend legitimacy to your candidacy.
As a candidate for President, and now as the presumptive GOP nominee, you have been afforded a transformative opportunity to be a leader on national and international stages and to make the Wharton community even prouder of our school and values.
However, we have been deeply disappointed in your candidacy.
We, proud students, alumni, and faculty of Wharton, are outraged that an affiliation with our school is being used to legitimize prejudice and intolerance. Although we do not aim to make any political endorsements with this letter, we do express our unequivocal stance against the xenophobia, sexism, racism, and other forms of bigotry that you have actively and implicitly endorsed in your campaign.
The Wharton community is a diverse community. We are immigrants and children of immigrants, people of color, Muslims, Jews, women, people living with or caring for those with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ community. In other words, we represent the groups that you have repeatedly denigrated, as well as their steadfast friends, family, and allies.
We recognize that we are fortunate to be educated at Wharton, and we are committed to using our opportunity to make America and the world a better place — for everyone. We are dedicated to promoting inclusion not only because diversity and tolerance have been repeatedly proven to be valuable assets to any organization’s performance, but also because we believe in mutual respect and human dignity as deeply held values. Your insistence on exclusion and scapegoating would be bad for business and bad for the American economy. An intolerant America is a less productive, less innovative, and less competitive America.
We, the undersigned Wharton students, alumni, and faculty, unequivocally reject the use of your education at Wharton as a platform for promoting prejudice and intolerance. Your discriminatory statements are incompatible with the values that we are taught and we teach at Wharton, and we express our unwavering commitment to an open and inclusive American society.
This letter reflects the personal views of its signatories only and is not affiliated with the Wharton School. The Wharton School takes no political position and does not comment on its students, alumni, or faculty.