As Donald Trump has repeatedly praised neo-Nazi and KKK rallies for being full of "fine people" and minimized the deadly domestic terror attack on peaceful counterprotesters in Charlottesville, everyone from Sen. John McCain to Trump's own economic adviser, Gary Cohn, have spoken out against the president. One voice that has been notably silent, however, is Trump's labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, who until recently was dean of Florida International University's law school.
In light of Trump's divisive rhetoric, dozens of FIU law grads have drafted a letter to Acosta demanding he step down from his newly appointed position.
"We ask that you immediately resign from your executive appointment with the Trump Administration," reads the letter, signed by 47 FIU law grads. "Further, we ask that you make every effort to distance yourself from that administration's view of the future of our nation, as that digressive view is opposite of the future envisioned by the FIU [law school]."
Jordan Dollar, an FIU law graduate, led efforts to organize the letter after Trump increasingly disregarded minority communities and sympathized with white supremacists in Charlottesville. After seeing a similar letter from 300 Yale students calling for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's resignation, Dollar figured something had to be done. Putting pressure on Miami's member of Trump's cabinet was a natural move.
"As things developed, a group of us decided it was a need for the school, one to distance itself from the administration... and use the voice we do have," Dollar says.
At first, Dollar reached out to former classmates and colleagues via email to garner support. But the campaign soon snowballed to include the whole FIU law community. Eventually, the letter made its way to the alumni Facebook group, where several alums argued against sending it. Some said the letter shouldn't claim to represent the whole FIU law community, while others wrote that competent leaders such as Acosta could help keep an increasingly unstable President Trump in check.
"We don't speak on behalf of all the alumni," Dollar says. As for the argument that Acosta could hold Trump accountable, Dollar says Acosta wouldn't be the right fit for that role. In his confirmation hearings, Dollar notes, Acosta often said that as labor secretary, he'd follow the lead of the Trump administration.
Dollar says he hopes the faculty members who worked closely with Acosta at FIU will eventually draft their own letter to the former dean, who had led FIU's program since 2009.
"I think it's important that the letter is not a personal attack on him," Dollar says. "He was supportive of the diversity of the school. He was supportive of the international aspect of the law school. He supported minorities at the law school. So he did all those things, which is why it's so disheartening that he’s now staying in this administration that's going in the opposite direction that he took the law school."
Here's the full letter sent to Acosta today: