Thousands from Calvin College sign letter opposing DeVos nomination

Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos arrives with former Sen. Joe Lieberman, right, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., before testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Thousands of Calvin College students and alumni are speaking out against nominating fellow alumna Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.

Central Michigan University professor Sara Moslener started the letter. She told 24 Hour News 8 she felt compelled to make her voice heard, but never thought 3,700 others would also take a stand.

“You can see in the letter we’re all we are all concerned about the nominee’s preparations and expertise in terms of this position… It was never this were not going to get her confirmed. It was we’re going to make ourselves heard that we have concerns about this,” Dr. Moslener said.

The letter, which is now circulating amongst the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, highlights 4 specific reasons why the signatories feel DeVos is not qualified.

“Many of us entered Calvin College directly from Christian high schools and spent our entire elementary and secondary school years in these institutions, as did Mrs. DeVos. While we appreciate the opportunity to thrive and learn that is provided by these educational systems, we recognize that the vast majority of K-12 students are educated in the public school system. Because of this, we believe that any individual who is nominated to be Secretary of Education should have a strong commitment to public education, which Mrs. DeVos does not ,” the online letter states.

DeVos graduated from Calvin College in 1979. Two buildings on campus are named for her family: the DeVos Communication Center and Prince Conference Center.

In light of the online letter, a Calvin College spokesperson shared the following statement Friday afternoon:

“The alumni-initiated letter challenging the appointment of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education has generated a lot of media attention and a misperception among some that Calvin College has endorsed the letter. This is not the case. Because of our status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization the college does not engage in political activities.

The college understands that its community (alumni, faculty, staff, students and beyond) represents a wide spectrum of political opinion. The college also understands that each member of its community seeks to work out his or her calling, and that our mission is affirmed when members of our community, like Mrs. DeVos, respond to their calling.

Mrs. DeVos and her fellow 60,000 alumni are discerning the best ways to engage politics and culture in this moment. And, in doing so, they are living out what we hope our students are learning during their time on campus: to think deeply, to act justly and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.”

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is expected to vote on DeVos’ confirmation Tuesday. With the committee controlled by Republicans, it seems likely she will be approved. The nomination will then go before the full Senate — which is also controlled by Republicans.

The West Michigan philanthropist and activist has pledged to divest her interests in more than 100 companies and resigned from school choice advocacy groups to avoid possible conflicts of interest.

A group of Calvin College students and alumni have created a Facebook group in support of DeVos.