Through the ups and downs of the primaries all the way to Election Day, 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump’s bid for the nation’s highest public office provoked thought and reflection at his often-touted alma mater. This is a compilation on his coverage by The Daily Pennsylvanian.
With attacks on Obamacare, Jeb Bush and Common Core, an infamous aspersion on Mexican immigrants and a claim that he was worth 8.7 billion dollars, Trump announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015. Despite a 70 percent disapproval rating from a Quinnipiac poll the month prior, Trump elected to join the pack of already 11 other contenders for the party’s nomination.
Trump regularly made mention of his time spent at The Wharton School, which he transferred to after spending two years at Fordham University in New York. Although he often claimed graduating at the top of his class, few classmates remember him in any leadership role and were especially surprised to see how different his boisterous media personality conflicted with their memory of him.
After founding Penn for Trump in his first weeks at Penn, Wharton sophomore Patrick Lobo decided to dissolve the group in December, mere months later in response to Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States and statement that “[they] have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”
Members of the DP staff went to New Hampshire and South Carolina for coverage of the primaries. In New Hampshire, the second state to hold primaries, Trump delivered a stump speech chock full of trademark insults on Republicans as well as President Obama. Trump cited the weather (“a blizzard”) as evidence against global warming and enlivened the crowd by proclaiming building a wall and calling Ted Cruz a “pussy.”
On July 8, an was published online and signed by over 4,000 Penn students, graduates and family members repudiating Donald Trump. Posted a week before the RNC convention in Cleveland, this letter aimed to repudiate Trump’s references to his Wharton degree, stating, “We, proud students, alumni, and faculty of Wharton, are outraged that an affiliation with our school is being used to legitimize prejudice and intolerance.”
While Penn and its employees may not officially give political endorsements in accordance with Penn’s non-profit status, a garnered hundreds of signatures asking Penn President Amy Gutmann to officially denounce Trump.
On October 11, students from “We Are Watching” protested Donald Trump as “an active advocate of rape culture” following the release of tapes from a 2005 recording of an episode for “Hollywood Access.” The video, in which Trump claims that his wealth enables him to act sexually with others at his own will, prompted the group to set up eight-foot-tall artwork all over College Green to bring attention to the pervasiveness of rape culture and to encourage students to vote.
Various members of Penn’s Class of 1968 were either surprised to discover that Donald Trump graduated with them 48 years ago or surprised how “‘anybody could be saying the things he says, and also have a Penn degree?’”
In records of donation pledges, Trump Foundation tax filings and other sources, the DP found that Trump may have donated over $1,480,500 to Penn. From donating over the years, Trump is listed as a part of “The President’s Circle,” an accolade for individuals who give gifts between $1,000,000 and $4,999,999.
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