Opinion: Ditzler Digresses, a President’s Guide to Never Taking a Position

The Rock, as it appeared September 6.
The Rock, as it appeared September 6.

Guest Piece by Phillip Carlisle, (’15)

Albion College President Mauri Ditzler released a blistering statement on Tuesday in which he criticized President Trump’s decision regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) federal immigration policy. This was well in line with the bold and clear stances Ditzler has long taken against the discriminatory practices of the Trump Administration.

In a three-paragraph statement, in which he opted for the cold, hard truth (instead of pulling his punches like a weaker president might have done), Ditzler called upon Albion’s students to “debate” and “discuss” Trump’s latest actions — actions which would result in tearing apart hundreds of thousands of families. Students, staff, faculty and alumni who read the statement were ‘shook’ at Ditzler’s bluntness.

In holding true to Albion’s motto, Lux Fiat (“let there be light”), Ditzler was resolute in his belief that the only way to face institutionalized forms of discrimination and to combat grave injustice in our world is to remember that we need to have “conversations”— lots of “conversations.” Gee, golly. If that doesn’t change Trump’s mind, I don’t know what will.

In fact, in the spirit of shining a bit of light on the audaciousness of President Ditzler and all the countless times he’s stood up for the those without strong voices in Albion’s community, I’ve decided to list a couple others of his ‘Greatest Hits’:

In a biting missive published in February, Ditzler was firm about Trump’s Executive Order 13769, otherwise known as Trump’s first “Muslim Ban.” Ditzler wrote, “In the executive order, Mr. Trump explained that it was his goal to protect the United States from those who do not share the values of our founders. It is hard to argue with that intent.”

What Ditzler didn’t write, or even try to imply, was that none of the countries which Trump targeted in his ban were more likely than others to have an increased risk of terror activities (at least, that’s what the Department of Homeland Security said). Ditzler wants Albion’s students to think so critically about this issue that he actually conceded an argument and pretended to believe it. Unbelievable, right? So courageous.

I understand what many of you are thinking: In times such as these, we’re lucky to have a President like Ditzler standing at the helm of Albion College. He’s a man who strives to stand up for what’s right, and we can all sleep soundly at night knowing he’d rather concede a point than denounce xenophobia.

On November 3, 2016, Ditzler wrote a Letter to the Editor for the Pleiad. In his letter, he told Albion’s students about the “strong opinions” he’d held throughout many elections. Considering how he’s stood up to Trump in the past, I believe him — Ditzler’s a wild animal.  

Ditzler went on to explain, “As I look back, it occurs to me that the positive outcomes [of those elections] didn’t turn out as well as I hoped and the negative outcomes weren’t quite as bad as I expected.”

So, here’s my advice for our Muslim students, our Latinx students, our transgender students and our black students. For our students who don’t know what the future might hold for them, or what might happen to their families, or what new horror might greet their loved ones as we enter into the second half of the first quarter of Trump’s presidency. For those who fear for democracy, or for civil rights, or for their very lives in this time of darkness:

Ditzler might believe that “the negative outcomes weren’t quite as bad as [he] expected,” but for those who face injustice on a regular basis? We know better. The vast majority of the staff, faculty, and students at Albion College know better. Alumni and friends of Albion know better. Where our school fails you, we won’t.

 

Photo by Beau Brockett Jr.

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