Some students and alumni have pushed back after first lady Melania Trump was awarded the 2020 “Woman of Distinction” award from Palm Beach Atlantic University, highlighting a divide at the Christian school just a short drive from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
But the president of the university is just fine with giving an award for purely political purposes.
The first lady, who recently changed her formal address to that Florida resort in West Palm Beach, said that she was “grateful” to accept the award, which the school’s website said is given to those “who cherish community and family and want to preserve these ideals for others”.
“As the first lady of the United States, it is a great honor to serve the people of this incredible country,” Trump said at the school’s annual Women of Distinction luncheon, where she also discussed her Be Best campaign that purports to take on cyberbullying and opioid abuse among the nation’s children.
“When we teach our children to cherish our values and care for each other, they are better prepared to carry on Americans’ legacy of compassion, service and patriotism,” she said. It is “our duty as adults and parents” to give children the best opportunities in life.
Proceeds from that luncheon will go toward scholarships for female students. The university said in an announcement that it chose the first lady — the first since starting the program in 1991 — as an “emphasis on encouraging the potential of each person aligns with Mrs Trump’s platform as First Lady.”
But students and some alumni have pushed back.
“This award has historically gone to women whose character and impact in Palm Beach has shaped the culture of our home, and I have not been convinced that the first lady’s character or impact here is worthy of that recognition,“ Graysen Boehning, a senior at the school, told The Hill.
“While many students were excited that the school was bringing in the first lady of the United States to speak, others felt that her character was not representative of the community of love for people of all backgrounds and beliefs that PBA houses and fosters,” he said.
Bill Fleming, the president of the university, told the Palm Beach Post meanwhile that he had “enthusiastically” accepted the board’s recommendation, and that it was “the honorable thing to do”.
After the award was given, Fleming said, “America’s first lady has sounded the call for action. She serves as a role model with brilliance, elegance and grace.”
The hypocrisy is obviously mind-blowing. Melania Trump accepted this award wearing a sleeveless dress, the same type of garment that conservatives freaked out over when Michelle Obama wore it for her White House photo.