pennhumanitiespetition

Penn faculty are taking a strong stance against Trump’s budget.

A recent petition denouncing the possible elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities proposed by the Trump administration's initial fiscal plan has been signed by 191 Penn faculty members.

“Scholars of the humanities, along with scientists and social scientists, at the University of Pennsylvania, vehemently oppose the President’s proposal because we know the tremendous losses to scholarship and to American culture that will occur if Congress agrees to end the NEH,” the statement read.

The statement was co-written by Beth Wenger, history professor and chair of the Department of History, English professor and Director of the Penn Humanities Forum James English, and Steven Weitzman, religious studies professor and director of the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. 

The petition defends the NEH as an institution which garners bipartisan support and enriches the nation. It cites the benefits of the organization, including rehabilitation of prisoners and support for rural communities.

“The NEH has succeeded in making ideas and culture more accessible in all 50 states,” it said.

“We, the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, implore Congress to save the National Endowment for the Humanities.”

After being drafted, the statement was circulated among faculty from various departments within the University. 

"Our main goal is to get it to Pennsylvanian senators, and the congressional delegation of Pennsylvania," Weitzman said. 

The petition was also sent to Penn's Office of Government and Community Affairs "to convey how important this issue is to faculty, but also [to be used] as a resource" when representing Penn's interests with lawmakers.

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney defended the eliminations as part of a “hard-power budget” on MSNBC last week.

If passed, the budget would eliminate funding for both the NEH and the National Endowment for the Arts. These two organizations received less than $300 million combined for fiscal year 2016, which amounts to less than 0.01 percent of the total federal budget. 

According to NEH’s appropriations request from last February, the organization requested nearly $150 million for the fiscal year 2017 which “would enable NEH to fulfill its legislated mission to advance knowledge and understanding in the humanities and make this knowledge and learning widely accessible throughout the nation."

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