Smith, Mount Holyoke college presidents call on Bannon to show inclusion, tolerance


  • Smith College President Kathleen McCartney speaks Sunday during the 138th commencement ceremony at Smith College Quadrangle in Northampton. SARAH CROSBY

  • Mount Holyoke President Sonya Stephens. MOUNT HOLYOKE COLLEGE

Published: 11/21/2016 11:27:31 AM

The presidents of Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges are calling on Stephen Bannon to develop a more tolerant and informed world view in light of his recent appointment as President-elect Donald Trump’s senior adviser.

In an open letter to Bannon, Smith President Kathleen McCartney and Mount Holyoke President Sonya Stephens joined the leaders of the other Seven Sisters institutions denouncing comments made by Bannon in a 2011 Political Vindication Radio interview in which he disparaged lesbians, feminists and Seven Sisters alumnae.

The Seven Sisters is an association of historically women’s colleges.

In light of his recent White House appointment, the college leaders urged Bannon to refrain from such intolerance in favor of a message of inclusion.

“As the leaders of the Seven Sisters Colleges, we take deep exception to these comments and ask that you take a more expansive, informed and tolerant world view in your leadership role,” they wrote in the letter posted online Monday morning.

Bannon served as chairman of the far-right Breitbart News until August, when he was named chief executive of Trump’s presidential campaign. Trump earlier this month appointed him as senior counselor to the president and chief strategist.

The Gazette reached out to the Trump campaign for comment.

Bannon’s appointment has been criticized by Democrats, civil rights groups, Jewish leaders and some Republicans. During Bannon’s tenure at Breitbart, the site published articles including “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” and “There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews,” according to The New York Times.

In the 2011 radio interview, Bannon referred to Ann Coulter, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin as people who are hated by liberals because: “These women cut to the heart of the progressive narrative. That’s why there are some unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement. That, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England,” the Times reported.

Monday’s letter was also signed by the presidents of Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Vassar College, Wellesley College and the dean of the Harvard University Radcliffe Institute.

“We are proud of our alumnae and students, who represent the spectrum of sexual orientation, race, class and religion as well as political party,” the letter reads. “Now more than ever, we look to those who would lead the United States of America for a message of inclusion, respect and unity.”

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