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Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric throughout the presidential campaign has pushed a string of high-profile Republicans to back his opponent, Hillary Clinton, and led to two historic newspaper endorsements of the Democratic candidate.
Now, University of Pennsylvania alumni are demanding that their alma mater repudiate Trump as well.
The real estate developer and reality TV star holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School, which he has made a frequent habit of mentioning in media appearances.
Alumni who say Trump is using the school to confer legitimacy on his brand of politics have started a Change.org petition asking Penn President Amy Gutmann and the university’s Board of Trustees to publicly state that the values articulated by Trump’s campaign do not reflect those of the university.
The petition, launched by 1991 graduate Nathaniel Popkin, acknowledges that as a tax-exempt institution the university is barred from making a political endorsement. But it asks that Penn leaders make a statement of its values in contrast to the GOP nominee.
“This statement will serve as clarification of Penn’s signature culture of openness, diversity and the advancement of rights of women and minority groups,” the letter said.
Clinton's alma mater, Wellesley College, has shown no reservations about embracing its link with the first female presidential nominee of a major party, promoting the connection on its website and releasing audio excerpts of her 1969 commencement speech. Wharton, meanwhile, has kept its distance from Trump, with administrators avoiding public comment on his candidacy. And Penn indicated that it wouldn't be weighing in on this petition, either.
“The university doesn’t involve itself in partisan political races, so we would not have anything to offer on this,” said Ron Ozio, a spokesman for the university.