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Last week, PLNU alumna Natalie Harp spoke at the Republican National Convention with a speech many news outlets, including the Washington Post and New York Times, found to include exaggerated claims. In the wake of this address, a petition circulated among PLNU alumni stating that “Natalie Harp does not speak for us,” which now has more than 500 signatures. As the President of the Point Loma College Democrats, and on behalf of our executive board, I wholeheartedly support this petition, but think it should be extended to include current PLNU students as well.
As students at a liberal arts college, we take courses designed to challenge and expand our world view, and Harp’s speech reflects poorly on the university. Harp’s speech, like many at the convention, relied heavily on American exceptionalism that painted a picture of an America only a small percentage of the population actually has access to. We are in the midst of a global pandemic which, due to the President’s failure to act, has a death toll of more than 181,000 (as of August 29). Our black and brown siblings are continuously being subjected to racial violence and discrimination at the hands of police—with law enforcement killing 751 people just this year (mappingpoliceviolence.org), and most recently, a 17-year-old terrorist killing two innocent civilians in Kenosha, Wisconsin while police sat by and watched. This is the reality we face and Harp’s speech completely ignores this.
PLNU seeks to “shape critical, thoughtful, and engaged individuals who contribute to every realm of human industry for the betterment of their communities and world.” If we, as students, faculty and alumni, are truly going to live out the PLNU mission, we must begin with acknowledging the injustices and oppression that our siblings around the country face, and work to dismantle the systems that perpetuate them. Ms. Harp’s speech failed to live up to the values of PLNU, and she does not speak for the university community. May her speech and this petition be a reminder to us that we have work to do in addressing these inequalities and injustices. The easiest way to begin to address these issues is simple: vote on November 3 to uphold our democracy and reject an administration that has allowed this American exceptionalism and flawed worldview to be perpetuated.
Written By: Maggie Valentine