Butler University Course Offers In-Depth Study of Trump Election

Course explores why and how Trump’s rhetoric earned him The White House, while discussing strategies of resistance.

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A new front in the resistance to Donald J. Trump’s presidency has sprung up in the backyard of his own vice president. A new fall course at Butler University will explore the election of the 45th president despite the campaign’s media blunders and perceived negative rhetoric. The course will also examine “strategies for resistance.”

“Trumpism and U.S. Democracy,” taught by Ann M. Savage, will begin on August 23. The course is already full, according to Butler’s registrar, with 17 students enrolled. News of the course was first reported Wednesday by The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based “free-market” think tank.

The online course description pulls no punches. “Donald J. Trump won the presidency despite perpetuating sexism, white supremacy, xenophobia, nationalism, nativism, and imperialism,” reads the description for the class. “This course explores why and how this happened, how Trump’s rhetoric is contrary to the foundation of the U.S. democracy, and what this means for the future.”

While a syllabus or reading list isn’t yet available, it sounds as if students may need to furnish their own protest signs. “The course will also discuss, and potentially engage in, strategies for resistance.”

On Twitter, former Indiana State Senator Carlin Yoder, a Republican, called the course “slightly outrageous.”

It’s worth noting that the private university isn’t exactly a bastion of ivory-tower, burn-the-campus-down liberalism. Recent guest lecturers have included former first lady Laura Bush. Likewise, former Republican Governor Mitch Daniels has been among its roster of commencement speakers. Daniels, speaking in 2009, noted the university’s traditional if not conservative, buttoned-down bent: “It was said then that Butler recruiters would travel to high schools on the East Coast promising parents, ‘Send your child to Butler and we will send them back the same person you raised,” Daniels said.

The university declined to make Savage available for an interview, but did issue the following statement:

“Butler University has been in the news recently with regard to the Trumpism and U.S. Democracy course being offered on campus next fall. The course is a one-time, Special Topics course, not required of students in any academic program.

“The faculty member has provided an updated course description that clarifies that students will be looking at the rise of President Trump as a political and social phenomenon and are not required to participate in activism. The University will review its practice of accepting preliminary course descriptions for Special Topics classes.

“Like all universities, Butler University values academic freedom and the liberties this affords its faculty members. At the same time, Butler strives to be a hospitable forum for the civil exchange of ideas.”

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