Spartans Speak: Students Address President Elect Donald J. Trump

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Spartans Speak: President Elect Donald J. Trump

By: Karen Rosenbloom

On November 8th 2016, Donald Trump was elected to be the next President of the United States, ending one of the most controversial elections in U.S. history. Following the election, several faculty members asked students to express their feelings to the President-elect. “It became very obvious the day after the election that there were a lot of emotions and discussions going on. I felt that the students in my Middle and Upper School classes needed an outlet to talk about what they were feeling. It was not about whether they were Republican or Democrat, for one candidate or another. I changed my lesson plan immediately and recognized that we had an opportunity for students to be proactive in being able to start a conversation with each other regardless of their political banter –  a conversation that could be started to make sense of how they were feeling politically,” says Broadcasting and Journalism teacher Ms. Karen Davis.

Similarly, Upper School Humanities teacher Daniela Pesce assigned her students to write a letter to President-elect Trump on current issues facing our nation.  Citing Supreme Court Judge Louis Brandeis, who said ‘The only title in our democracy superior to that of President is the title of citizen,’ she felt it of paramount importance to give her students a chance to express themselves. Learning to use your voice gives you power in a democracy. When that voice is informed, it becomes even more powerful… I wanted students to have a chance to explore an issue that is important to them, and let the president-elect know what they think about it. My aim for this project was not just to teach students that they should have and use their voice, but, now I think more than ever, to also teach them that with power they also have a responsibility as young people in a democracy, and that responsibility goes beyond voting. It includes being informed, getting that information from credible sources, and using that information to think of solutions to those issues. This project gave students the opportunity to use their voice, but it also required that they inform themselves and use evidence to support that voice and make it credible.”

The following excerpts are from letters written by Upper and  Middle Schoolers to President-elect Donald J. Trump in the days following the election.

(Note: The opinions expressed in these excerpts do not reflect the opinions of Miami Country Day School, but are a representative sampling of what we at The Spartacus received from students.)

Yasmine Coutinho,11th – Discrimination towards minorities

“I am writing this letter to you not to offend you in any way, but to provide you with some insights of how your opinions towards immigrants and minorities are shaping the United States into a disunited and intolerant country, and to urge you to please bring an end to the acts of hate and violence that are occurring all over the country because of racism. After your presidential speeches and many interviews, a large part of the population got the wrong idea that it is acceptable to be racist towards minorities. This idea leads to violence and hate which creates a divided country and causes chaos…After the massive quantity of hate crimes that are happening all over the United States, the minorities that live in the U.S. and I insistently request that you as the president of the United States, do everything in your power to stop these incidents and appease the people who are suffering with these hate crimes. I genuinely hope you take my letter into consideration and understand what people are having to endure in the U.S. for looking a certain way or for coming from a different culture. I also hope your understand the consequences of the chaos that can and will start if you do not take any action to stop these crimes.”

Jorden Gross, 11th-Immigration

“Illegal immigration and the “sanctuary cities” in this nation of ours are issues of great importance. The mayors that have been coming out in the press lately (such as Mayor Bill DeBlasio from NYC & Mayor Rahm Emanuel from Chicago) stating that their cities are “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants is preposterous. It is understandable that illegal immigrants have the right to feel safe from prosecution if they witness a crime or are a victim themselves, but it is not appropriate for such cities to aid and abet a criminal illegal immigrant as some are stating they will do. Part of our taxes that go to the government go to those cities and for what, to give even more money to the illegal immigrants who already use it in the form of food stamps and housing allowances, and to now have those mayors defy federal law by denying information about the illegal criminal immigrants that reside within their cities. I know that a big part of your campaign was to do something about the illegal immigrants, especially the criminal ones, that affect us in our everyday lives. Those cities, by their lax way of interpreting what constitutes a sanctuary city, are indirectly instigating some of the illegal immigrants that are actively participating in criminal activities to continue doing so and then the city will either give them refuge or allow them to flee.I know that throughout the course of your campaign you promised to build a wall and deport all of the illegal immigrants, but that after further consideration you have decided to focus on removing the criminal element within that section (as mentioned in the 60 Minutes interview recently), and I personally stand behind this notion.”

Sami Habib, 12th-On Death Penalty

“Mr. Trump please listen when I say the death penalty is a brutal, barbaric and uncivilized action to take upon criminals. I know you are very certain on your opinions and I respect that.  But something I have learned throughout my life is that it takes a lot of courage to have an open mind and really listen to people. I have done my research.  You are a strong advocate for criminal execution.  You even took up a whole page in the New York Times to advertise the death penalty and how we should bring it back into New York.  I do respect your passion for justice but is death the only answer?  What is there to gain from an execution? What does it really help in any way? Where exactly is the justice in it all?…Please understand I am not trying to change your mind, but just lay out my ideas for a better and more righteous country.”

Christina Johnston,12th-On Abortion

“…As I followed your campaign I became increasingly concerned about the fate of my reproductive rights under your leadership. It’s an issue that I believe concerns many millions of American women. As much as I respect your views on abortion and as a pro-life American, I hope you can respect my stance as being pro-choice. While it may seem small in the scheme of all the other issues you want to address, I find this case to be paramount. Next to the introduction of the 19th Amendment, the Supreme Court decision made in this case has been crucial to establishing equal rights and opportunity for women…I hope you will do everything in your power to protect Roe v. Wade and see that isn’t overturned…Despite your personal opposition, I hope you can recognize how important reproductive rights are. It is imperative to women to know they control their future and reproductive lives. I hope as the president of the United States you will stand by women and protect our fundamental rights.”

Melissa Benedek,12th-Dakota Access Pipeline

“The controversy over the installment of the Dakota Access Pipeline has sparked protests across the country. Both the Standing Rock Sioux nation and allies have stood their ground against this act of injustice for this pipeline would go directly through the land of the Sioux, taking away their sovereignty as well as their water access since the pipeline has potential to leak…The establishment of the pipeline does not make any effort to be environmentally conscious as global warming continues to be an increasingly paramount issue in today’s world.I urgently request for the production of the Dakota Access Pipeline to be stopped and rerouted in order for peace to be restored. By rerouting the pipeline, the Sioux nation will be able to remain on their sacred land and have access to clean water. With an alternative in place, Native Americans and allies alike, will have their voices heard with such a compromise. Without a response that suits all parties, I can only fear that the pipeline will destroy many lives of  innocent people.”

Matt Liebowitz, 12th- Corporate tax rates

“…I believe one of the most important issues is jobs, and creating them in the United States.  The current corporate tax rate in the United States is 35%, tied for the second highest in the world, and we are the ones with the highest marginal tax at 39%.  You proposed on the campaign trail to lower the current tax rate from 35% to 15%, which would bring jobs back from overseas to the United States.  Your main focus and message of the campaign was to bring manufacturing, and labor jobs from overseas to the United States.  If you implemented the tax cuts you were promising that would lead to economic growth and job creation.  If companies have more money from lower taxes than they will be able to invest more in the United States and that will lead to more jobs.  Mr. Trump you know better than anyone, being a successful businessman that companies from overseas like the United States, because of the amount of people and the money the residents have in the United States.  If you lower the corporate tax rate companies understand that they can come to the United States because of the advanced manufacturing,  they will build factories and create more jobs here than in other countries. “

Violeta de la Guardia,12th-Sexism

“Considering your election by the rare electoral college’s contrasting view from the popular vote, (which has only happened four other times in our history), I felt the inclination to write this letter to you concerning the state of our society— more specifically concerning, sexism in general, sexism in relation to your long campaign, and the way sexism is predicted to rise as your role as president begins and continues…The portrayal of men and women in the media does not only affect straight people. It affects those who are a part of the LGBT community. When someone is trying to find themselves and understand what their preference is, when they see their own gender or the opposite gender portrayed in a manner that the individual does not remotely consider themselves to be, it can be very confusing and harmful to their emotional development and understanding. But, even after someone comes out and accepts themselves for who they are, they still have to deal with sexism when they might not even fit into any of the gender binary categories (boy or girl)…Create an example not only for other countries, but for ourselves— because right now, America seems to be fearful, divided, and unhappy. Rather than the basis you have created during your campaign: promoting sexual harassment, making sexist comments, arguing with others fueled by petty insults on physical appearance, commenting almost solely on women’s looks and how they should act, promoting and defending a Vice President who is more than strongly anti-LGBT, etc, create a new foundation that is pillared upon the ideas of equality, respect, and truth— ideas that seem to be hidden under a blanket of fear and ignorance.’’

Nebiyou Meshesha,11th-Standardized Testing

“Why waste four years of your life working hard, eager to be successful and then let one standardized test be a crucial factor into where you spend the first four years of adulthood? Tests like the Sat and the Act should be removed from the college application process…The SAT and ACT are not a part of the school system which puts students at a disadvantage… Where is the Justice? People that support standardized test generally say that standardized tests provide “accurate comparison between sub-groups.” For example, “ethnicity, socioeconomic status, special needs,” It amazes me how this is considered a good thing. African Americans are usually associated with no money and require need. So the Sat maps out what we already know, people that can afford a tutor will do well and the people that can’t afford the sat will not do well, and the vast majority of those people are more than likely black Americans or a minority of some sort.  People can view this as a pro to standardized test while I view this as a very big con. Standardized test should not be a part of the college application process because at the end of the day it does more harm than good.”   

Torrence Mack,7th- On Gun Control

“Congratulations on winning the 2016 election. Since you are the new President I would like to tell you some things you might want to do to make our proud nation better than it is. I would like for you to enforce on gun violence. Too many people are getting killed by people who do not have the right to own a gun. Lives matter in this nation. A law that people should have a permit for having a gun would make it better. And when someone is purchasing a gun, make sure that the seller makes sure the customer is certified to own one. I wish you luck being the President of the United States.

Thank you, Torrence Mack”

Ali Emir Sahin,8th Grade -ISIS

“Dear President Elect Trump,

My name is Ali Emir Sahin, and I am an 8th grader. My family moved to Miami from Turkey two years ago. I wanted to congratulate you for winning against Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. My hope for this country in the next four years is that my fellow Muslims will feel safe here. A lot of muslims in this country are discriminated because of ISIS; in reality ISIS does not represent us, it uses the religion for their own wicked purposes. I hope that you will find a way to stop ISIS.

Sincerely, Ali Emir Sahin”

Please feel free to send us your comments or your own letters to President-elect Trump.