To Stephen Miller, Duke University Class of 2007,Some of the alumni are raising money in support for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Duke Chronicle reports. So far the campaign has raised a little over $5,000.
Our class’s upcoming ten-year reunion serves as an occasion to reflect on how much has changed since we left campus. After graduation, some of us remained in Durham and some of us moved to Dar es Salaam. Some embarked on medical school and some started novels. We can now be found in every type of professional field in every corner of the globe—but no matter who or where we are, we’ve striven to embody the ideals instilled in us by our Duke education.
You have also accomplished much. As a Senior Advisor to President Donald J. Trump, you have ascended to the very peak of American policy-making and have gained the power to influence not just hundreds of millions of Americans, but the lives of people around the world. And yet we find it impossible to see in your words and actions any glimmer of the university values we so cherish, nor the slightest suggestion that you spent four of your most formative years at the same dynamic, diverse institution of higher education we did.
Surely you lived, as we did, in the same Duke quads as migrants and refugees, people who came to our school after childhoods of horrific hardship, people who sought American shores for the promise of safety and opportunity their native homes could not deliver. How is it, then, that as a global refugee crisis continues to unfold you can play such a central role in the executive order banning innocent refugees and the citizens of seven majority Muslim countries?
Surely you had classes where young women were the leading lights of seminars and discussions, women who have now gone on to achieve success in the law, in business, in academia, in the arts, in medicine, in politics. How, then, can you contribute to an administration that overlooks women for cabinet posts, advisory roles, and judgeships, that speaks and acts as though women lack sufficient agency to make decisions about their own families and bodies?
Surely you rode the campus bus with members of the LGBTQ community, some of whom were proudly public, others of whom remained in the closet due to fear and stigma, all of whom were entitled to the same basic protections you were, not to mention dignity and happiness. So how is it that you are contributing to an agenda that seeks to strengthen stigma, undercut protections, and abridge rights?
Surely you ate lunch alongside students of color, people from all manner of socioeconomic backgrounds and locales. How, then, can you condone rhetoric that reduces African Americans to people who hail only from crime-infested, drug-ridden neighborhoods and that insults Hispanics by asking them to support the construction of that most divisive of political symbols—a wall separating them from their heritages, and often their families?
Surely as a columnist for the Duke Chronicle you saw the invaluable benefits of a rigorous, open-minded newsroom, just as you saw how integral the student press was to promoting free, vigorous discourse on campus. So how is it that you can now help lead an administration that seeks to bully and muzzle the press, that views journalists as good for nothing more than serving as mouthpieces for your political agenda?
We, the undersigned members of Duke’s Class of 2007 and beyond, see nothing in your actions that furthers the values of intellectual honesty, tolerance, diversity, and respect that we seek to promote in the world. But you can rest assured we will continue to champion those very values and serve as representatives of the Duke we want the world to see—for the next ten years and for the decades to follow.