Americans vote today in what may be the most contentious U.S. presidential election in modern history. While higher education has not been a central issue in the general election campaign, the candidates have offered starkly different ideas about college affordability and many other topics of importance to colleges, professors and students.
The presidential candidates and their positions:
- Hillary Clinton, after a Democratic primary campaign focused on a plan for debt-free public higher education, in July proposed making public higher education free for those with family incomes up to $125,000.
- Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, has said he would help students with college costs by forcing colleges and universities with large endowments to use more of those funds to minimize tuition.
- The candidates differ sharply on science policy, with Clinton pledging major increases in support for federal science agencies and Trump questioning the consensus of scientists on key issues.
- Clinton has vowed to continue the Obama administration's policies on preventing and punishing sexual assault on campus, while Trump has questioned those policies.
- Many leaders of historically black colleges, sometimes frustrated with the Obama administration, hope Clinton is elected and believe she would promote policies of importance to their institutions.
The campaigns and students:
- Starting during the Republican primary campaign, supporters of Trump set off numerous debates about free speech and tolerance on campus by chalking their support (and sometimes statements that offended many students).
- Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, angered some students on his own campus by endorsing and campaigning for Trump.
The campaigns and professors:
- Many academics spoke out against Trump, and some of those academics were conservatives.
- At the same time, other scholars signaled they were backing Trump.
A selection of essays by our contributors:
- Brian Rosenberg of Macalester College and Michael Roth of Wesleyan University consider the responsibilities of academic leaders in this election.
- Matt Grossmann of Michigan State University and David A. Hopkins of Boston College consider how the conservative movement has undercut academe.
- Nancy Thomas of Tufts University reviews how colleges can encourage civic engagement by students.
- Jed Shahar and Benjamin Lawrance Miller of Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York consider the claims of Trump and the research skills they teach their students.
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