Trump 101: A quandary for some college profs

Some college professors are not quite sure how to handle teaching about Donald Trump and his improbable rise to become the Republican presidential nominee. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

Some college professors are not quite sure how to handle teaching about Donald Trump and his improbable rise to become the Republican presidential nominee. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

This election season has frequently been called unusual, at the very least, and that’s due in no small part to the unexpected candidacy of Republican Donald Trump.

The unprecedented nature of the 2016 race is making some professors wonder — what’s the right way to teach students about Trump?

Stephen Medvic, a professor of government at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, said he has  always avoided personal biases while teaching.

But, then, he has never seen a campaign like Trump’s, and that changes things.

“If someone comes to the conclusion that the way he’s run his campaign for the last 14, 15 months suggests that there might be some real threats to democratic norms and democratic principles, the question is then, does that person have an obligation to express that?” Medvic said.

Medvic said he thinks in this case, some personal opinion is permissible.

“Whether it’s blacklisting various media outlets, encouraging violence at his rallies, saying our election system is rigged — those things raise really serious concerns,” he said.

Other professors aren’t so sure. David O’Connell, a political science professor at Dickinson College in Carlisle, said such judgements can skew discussions.

“To say that Trump is the most dangerous candidate — I mean, to me, that’s already somewhat of an already normative judgment,” O’Connell said. “I mean, maybe Hillary is actually the more dangerous candidate.”

Both professors agreed they wouldn’t be structuring classes entirely around the 2016 race.

O’Connell said it’s more important for students to understand elections in general, not just this one.

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