A blast from the past hit Jared Kushner when 50 members of the NYU Law class of 2007 — his former classmates — sent him a letter on Jan. 29. Penned by alumni Rebecca Davidson Zipp, the letter appealed to Kushner as President Donald Trump’s advisor to use his newfound power for good.
Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, did not respond to the original message that was delivered to him on Dec. 16. It was also published online.
“Jared, you, a member of a historically despised religious minority, have enjoyed a first-class education and unparalleled privilege in this inestimable country,” read the letter. “Please exercise your power and your incredible access to ensure that members of other historically despised groups have an opportunity to enjoy some of the same privileges that have been extended to you.”
Kushner’s classmates focused on their concerns regarding Trump’s policies while still complimenting his intelligence and thoughtful attributes. While alumni Geraint Chen signed the letter that appealed to Kushner’s shared humanity, he was unsure of how effective the letter would be — Chen signed it, since he believes the message is important.
“I was asked by a friend and law school classmate of mine if I’d be willing to sign on to a letter that asked Jared to show compassion toward disenfranchised groups and the powerless,” Chen said. “I felt the central message was a worthy and noble one.”
Chen said that he felt it was important to try and influence Kushner in a respectful manner, especially when the stakes in America’s future are so high. David Farkas, another member of Kushner’s class, expressed similar sentiments and said that he was disappointed that Kushner had compromised his integrity for a position of power.
“I can only speak for myself, but what I took away from the letter was that we as classmates of Mr. Kushner suspected that his principles were strong enough to stand the allure of power,” Farkas said. “I think we’re appealing to those principles and to his integrity.”
Farkas said that he hopes the letter will spur Kushner to consider his integrity and principles, and motivate him to push back against the more hateful and dangerous aspects of his administration. However, like Chen, Farkas is unsure of how much change the letter will incite.
Stern freshman David Wang said that while this letter was a powerful statement, Kushner’s education has little influence on his current position — the importance of his present appointment overshadows any affiliation he had in the past. He said that simply because NYU is a liberal school, that does not mean its students must follow those same ideals. And Wang thinks that includes Kushner.
“This public letter is an echo of the overwhelming pressure to express liberal ideas that oftentimes becomes counterproductive,” Wang said. “It is not Kushner’s identity as a NYU graduate or conservative, but rather the fact that he possesses a senior role in the new administration that mandates him to strive to improve the country.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 6 print edition. Email Arushi Sahay at [email protected]