Donald Trump vs. the Ivy League: An Election-Year Battle

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tags: culture war, Ivy League, Donald Trump, colleges and universities

When it comes to criticizing the nation’s most elite universities, the Trump administration has had a busy year.

In recent months, it has accused Yale of discriminating against white and Asian-American applicants and opposed Harvard’s affirmative action policy. It threatened to force international students to leave the country if their coursework was entirely online — a policy that would have disproportionately affected Harvard and other elite research universities. And last week, it began a civil rights investigation of Princeton, based on a letter from the university’s president that expressed concern about systemic racism at the school, and vowed to combat it.

To anyone who has listened closely to President Trump, himself an Ivy League graduate, the actions might not have seemed surprising. Over the years, he has depicted many American colleges as engines of “radical left indoctrination” and “propaganda,” questioned their patriotism and called for a review of their tax-exempt status.

But to many university leaders, the attacks represent something more ominous: the election-year weaponization of federal agencies — principally the Education Department and the Justice Department — to energize conservative voters who have long viewed the nation’s elite universities as liberal bastions.

“It’s seven weeks until the election, and this is a political attempt by the Trump administration to play to his base by going after an elite educational institution,” Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law scholar and dean of the University of California, Berkeley, law school, said of the investigation of alleged racism at Princeton. “If you look at the demographics, college-educated voters overwhelmingly vote Democratic, and his base is overwhelmingly white.”


Read entire article at New York Times

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