A Letter to Ross Dean Scott DeRue re: Stephen M. Ross' Fundraiser for Donald Trump

A Letter to Ross Dean Scott DeRue re: Stephen M. Ross' Fundraiser for Donald Trump

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Alumni of the Ross School of Business started this petition to Stephen M. Ross and

Dear Dean DeRue,

We represent a broad landscape of alumni of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, spanning multiple graduation years, degree programs, and - more importantly - national, racial, gender, political, and religious identities.

As alumni of Ross, “Go Blue” is a credo that many of us hold true to espousing. We proudly fly the Block M outside our homes and cars. We gather in homes, restaurants, and arenas worldwide to cheer on our sports teams. We smile and share glances when we encounter another maize and blue-clad citizen in our streets. And we serve on our local alumni boards, greet new graduates, and send our best wishes to those departing for Ann Arbor as they set forth to sit in the same classrooms we did years ago.

These experiences were made possible - and enhanced - through the generous support of one of the school’s most distinguished graduates, Stephen M. Ross. Through his generosity, many of us received the necessary financial aid to attend the University of Michigan. His vision for sound public education solidified an expanding, world-class physical facility to engage with endowed professors and teachers of a variety of subjects. And even you, Dean DeRue, carry a title with Mr. Ross’ name as the endowed sponsor; his generosity ensures you can provide for your family while leading our alma mater. 

Thus, we were concerned when we learned that Mr. Ross planned to host a highly visible and lucrative fundraiser for President Donald Trump’s presidential re-election campaign. We certainly agree that a private citizen has the right to support a political candidate of her or his choosing, and we do not intend to criticize Mr. Ross for exercising his right to do so. However, we find Mr. Ross’ support of President Trump’s presidency concerning, as it contradicts the values we collectively explored - and continue to seek to uphold - at Michigan in a variety of ways.

In particular:

We do not believe that Mr. Ross personally holds nor endorses President Trump’s full slate of views, particularly on the topics we highlighted above. But we cannot ignore the extraordinary negative signal it sends when Mr. Ross chooses to leverage his wealth and power to support the re-election of an elected official with such repugnant views toward our global community and the concepts of public education and values that the University of Michigan upholds.

We are asking you, as the current leader of the school we hold dear, to reflect on this note of concern we share. We are worried that Mr. Ross’ affiliation with our school may damage its reputation, yet we also wish to respect his freedom to support a political candidate of his choosing. We see this as an opportunity to engage the University community in an honest discussion around the shaky foundations of dialogue we experience as a society.

We are proposing the following: we’d like Mr. Ross to engage in a moderated discussion with a cadre of students, alumni, and faculty around this topic. We’d like to understand more of his rationale behind supporting President Trump’s candidacy, his intent, and his balancing of his personal and political motivations. In turn, we wish to share with him our own perspectives of the effects that President Trump’s election, time in office, and the potential extension of it has on our own personal and professional lives here and around the world. 

We would be happy to work with you, Mr. Ross, and any respective parties to find an appropriate time, medium, and venue to hold this discussion. We believe it to be an inclusive, supportive, and thoughtful way forward - a form of progress that holds true to the values of the university we love.

Dean DeRue, we eagerly await your thoughts, consideration, and response to this request.

Go Blue,

The University of Michigan Ross School of Business Alumni

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