David B. Rochelson ’05 penned the letter addressed to Kushner, who is Trump’s son-in-law and a senior adviser to the President.
“Harvard’s motto is simple. It is just a single word: Veritas. Truth,” the letter reads. “It is the guiding value of your alma mater; let it be a value in the Administration as well.”
The alumni letter is one of many ways Harvard affiliates have criticized Trump and his administration. Following Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries temporarily and Syrian refugees indefinitely, many at Harvard have taken to the streets in protest and signed letters challenging the policy.
Rochelson drafted the letter Sunday night in response to Trump’s executive order on immigration. He posted it to his Facebook page on Monday, hoping that people would add comments to it and expand upon it.
The letter emphasizes Harvard’s values, and asks Kushner to carry those values with him in his new position.
“We ask that you remember your grandparents, refugees from Nazi Germany, when the Administration shuts our nation’s borders to the millions around the world who are fleeing conflict. They are counting on you,” the letter reads.
Rochelson, who lived in Mather House, attended the College at the same time as Kushner and said he remembers meeting him very briefly. All of Rochelson’s grandparents and great-grandparents were refugees and immigrants who fled violence in their home countries, he said, and his grandfather is a Holocaust survivor.
When Rochelson found out that Kushner’s grandparents fled Nazi Germany, he said he was “shocked.”
“I was sort of just shocked by that when I found out he and I shared that experience, and I thought: we also have our alma mater in common,” Rochelson said.
Approximately 3,000 Harvard alumni have signed the letter so far, Rochelson said.
“It just sort of took on a life of its own immediately,” Rochelson said. He later posted it online and created a Google Form allowing people to add their signatures. One of the signatories, Damien S. Chazelle ’07, directed the movie “La La Land” and was nominated for two Oscars this year.
“Ever since the election or even the campaign, there have been just thousands, millions of voices that have sort of been struggling to make themselves heard,” Rochelson said. “And I am not in the same league as people organizing marches of millions of people all around the world, so I just thought this is a small thing that I can do.”
Rochelson said he does not know if Kushner has seen the letter, but that he hopes to get a copy into his hands.
Kushner could not be reached for comment.
—Staff writer Leah S. Yared can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Leah_Yared.
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