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Political science faculty speak out against hiring of former Trump staffers

University of Minnesota professors signed on to a letter last month asking their employers to apply the “strictest of scrutiny” in hiring former Trump administration staff.
Image by Mary Ellen Ritter

Political science faculty from universities nationally have signed onto two letters, one of which includes a demand that college administrations be critical of hiring staffers from former President Donald Trump’s administration.

Over 150 professors have signed the letter, including five from the University of Minnesota. The letter, which was written in early January, asks for University administrators to “refrain from hiring or otherwise giving positions to senior officials, political appointees, and political staffers in the Trump administration without first applying the strictest of scrutiny — including consultation with faculty and students.”

Some Trump administration aides and staffers are reportedly worried about finding employment following their time under the former president, according to reporting by Politico. Over the last several years, universities attempting to hire former Trump staffers have faced protests from students and faculty, including at the University of Virginia.

“The intent of signing a letter at least for me, is sort of making a public commitment and sending a signal. The reason for doing it is to let people in positions to make these kinds of decisions know that they have faculty and other people in their institution who are going to speak up if this happens,” Humphrey School of Public Affairs professor Joe Soss said.

Soss signed the letter after seeing it circulate on social media and said he expects the University to consult with faculty, staff and students before hiring former members of the Trump administration.

“We think there should be a presumption with this administration that it will be inappropriate to offer positions of our institution to people who’ve done the work of this administration,” Soss said.

However, Department of Political Science professor Tanisha Fazal says she is skeptical of the effectiveness of the letter.

“I tend not to sign a lot of these kinds of letters. But there are certain lines that, if crossed, require accountability,” Fazal wrote in an emailed statement to the Minnesota Daily. “Honestly, I’m skeptical that the letter will have, or has had, much of an effect (although I would be glad to be wrong about this). Even so, and speaking only for myself, it was important for me to speak up by signing the letter.”

In early January, Soss and multiple other University professors also signed onto a letter demanding the former U.S. president’s removal from office, which had signatures from over 100 faculty at universities nationally. Jane Lawrence Sumner, another faculty member in the University’s political science department also signed the letter.

“I think that it’s important that people who study politics and government and political science be willing to take a stand and just say our political institutions mean something, and we believe in protecting them,” Sumner said. “I think one thing that does unify us is we all do share this commitment to sort of the strength and resilience of political institutions. And I think it’s important to take a stand on that.”

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  • Larry Hanson
    Jan 29, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    This is why the U can save time and money by not sending me fundraiser letters and emails. There two sides to the cancel culture.