In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Ripon College President Zach Messitte, who is also a professor in the Politics and Government department, encourages fellow professors to disparage Donald Trump. "First, I think it’s fine for professors to acknowledge Trump’s narrow-minded rhetoric," he writes. He's looking forward to the discussion as well."I'm looking forward to the fall. I’ll have a chance to teach 18- to 22-year-olds during the run-up to a historic presidential election," he begins with.

Messitte also references how colleges have dealt with students who dare to express unpopular, politically incorrect opinions. "If Trump were a student, he would have already been called into the dean’s office to explain comments about women, minorities, immigrants, veterans and people with disabilities. My college’s core values celebrate and protect differences of perspective, background and heritage. Relationships on college campuses are supposed to be friendly, welcoming and supportive."

Professors should not ignore Trump, he writes. "Professors should dive right into the big question: How can we be open-minded in the face of Trump’s bigotry? How can we extend that empathy and thoughtfulness even to those we disagree with? We need to extend these qualities to the victims of Trump’s bigotry."

In that case, Messitte should also be "celebrat[ing]" those who support Trump. "But we also need to listen and respect those students and professors who support Trump," he acknowledges, but also points to "college-aged Trump supporters [who] troll hate without ever directly engaging their classmates." There is no mention of those Trump supporters who have had to sensor themselves on campus for fear of violence.

"It will be up to our professors to defend the right to hold an unpopular position, even one that we strongly disagree with. Because if colleges and universities want to remain a training ground for future leaders, an incubator for new ideas or a place where a future political consensus is forged, civil discourse is a fundamental part of that higher calling," writes Messitte after calling for discussion focusing on "Trump's bigotry."

Messitte also hopes for influence beyond the educational realm. "While professors and administrators need to do everything they can to make sure that their campuses promote free speech, they also need to maintain civility and basic decency. And that’s tricky. Beyond higher education, how the nation wrestles with this same conundrum is important — and not just in the run-up to the election... How the nation’s teachers integrate understanding Trumpism into their classrooms this fall, regardless of discipline, will go a long way toward finding some common ground with the 40-something percent of the voting population that supports him," he writes in conclusion.

H/T: Campus Reform