UPenn publicly responded to both Trump and Biden presidential victories. They were very different.
The University of Pennsylvania’s official news service published an article that glowingly anticipated the incoming Biden administration.
Professors quoted in the article lauded the mainstream media, delineated the Black Lives Matter riots from the Capitol Building riots, and insisted that white supremacy is inherent in America’s institutions.
In contrast, the University of Pennsylvania sorrowfully accepted the results of President Trump’s election in 2016.
The University of Pennsylvania’s official news service published an article that glowingly anticipated the arrival of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
"The run-up to the 2020 presidential election in the United States was like none other, with vitriolic and divisive discourse and a sitting president making false claims about the integrity of the vote, culminating in a deadly confrontation at the Capitol building. Yet, lawmakers still carried out their role in certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr. as 46th President and Kamala Harris as 49th Vice President and the first female to hold the role," UPenn's website stated.
In 2016, however, the Ivy League school sorrowfully accepted alumnus Donald Trump’s victory. University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann remarked that “this Presidential campaign was one of the most bitter, divisive and hurtful in American history.”
“Whoever won, millions of people were going to be terribly troubled by the results,” she continued in response to Trump's 2016 election. “The American people have now voted, and it is our duty to respect the outcome. Regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation or citizenship, everyone needs to be heard and respected. I fervently believe that the diversity of America and its welcoming heart make this country great.”
“It is my hope that ideals that we hold dear at Penn — inclusion, civic engagement and constructive dialogue — will guide our nation's new administration, and that they will work hard to ensure opportunity, peace and prosperity for every person and every group that together form the diverse mosaic of the United States,” added Gutmann.
In stark contrast, on the day before Biden’s inauguration, a Penn Today article entitled “The state of U.S. democracy” quoted several professors’ optimistic remarks about the direction of the nation.
“Is this a period in our country’s history in which we should be particularly proud? No. But is our system proving that it’s durable? Yes,” communication professor Kathleen Jamieson said.
Jamieson also wrote an op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer, explaining why the foundations of the American government “remain durable” even after a volatile election season.
In addition to an effective judiciary and the preservation of free speech, Jamieson lauded the press for holding Trump accountable and calling for the exercise of the 25th Amendment.
“A free press is alive and well; I don’t think it’s ever been stronger,” she told Penn Today.
Campus Reform asked Jamieson if plummeting American confidence in the media challenges the notion that the press is currently free. She explained that “mainstream press holds presidents accountable” and said that “Republican Trump supporters believe his attacks on ‘media’ and disbelieve content that exposes problems in his administration.”
Political science professor Daniel Gillion delineated between violent Black Lives Matter protests and the Capitol Building riot.
“For one, Black Lives Matter protesters did not go into the Capitol building looking to hunt down congressional members and destroying federal offices of duly elected representatives while taking mementos of a riot to advert the Constitution,” said Gillion. “What happened Jan. 6 is in a disgraced infamy class of its own. One was protests, the other a failed coup.”
History professor Anne Berg remarked that “American democracy has white supremacy baked into its institutions, its laws, and the enforcement of these laws. The violent backlash against the movement for Black Lives and the growing, multi-racial coalition that stands with it made that undeniable.”
“American democracy isn’t broken, it works precisely as designed. It works for white people with access to property, wealth, education, and social status,” she continued. “It has never worked for Black Americans, for Indigenous Americans, for people of color, for non-white immigrants, for refugees, ‘undocumented’ migrants, the homeless, the poor, the incarcerated.”
Campus Reform asked Berg if she could provide evidence to support her claim that white supremacy is baked into America’s institutions. She explained that her assertions are “not based on a few documents or fragmentary evidence but rather on the works of countless scholars, none of which can be distilled into a soundbite for a platform that is invested in denying the very reality that I referenced.”
Campus Reform reached out to the University of Pennsylvania, as well as Jamieson, Gillion, and Berg, for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.
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