Emory To Identify Those Who Chalked Support For Trump On Sidewalks and Walls

495px-Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore220px-Emory_University_SealWe have been discussing how colleges and universities are expanding the range of micro aggressions and hostile or hate speech to troubling levels in terms of free speech and associational rights. Now the expression of political views in the presidential election has been added to speech that students have declared threatening. Someone at Emory chalked the name of Republican candidate Donald Trump around campus. Nothing unusual about that. Students often chalk up statements on sidewalks for causes or candidates. It would not be seen as in any way unusual and the next rain brings a clean slate. However, the statement of support for Trump has led to a protest calling for the supporter to be punished or expelled and for the President to express condemnation of such political affiliations. The students want a statement of support for Trump to be treated as the same as the writing of a swastika. The students have said that they feel threatened in the wake of the statements of political support for Trump.

Students organized immediately after seeing the statements of support and had a meeting with Emory President James W. Wagner to demand action. Students demanded to know “Why did the swastikas [on the AEPi house in Fall 2014] receive a quick response while these chalkings did not?” They were not happy when Wagner reportedly responded that that was a case of an outside threat. The questions reportedly became more pointed like “What do we have to do for you to listen to us?” One student demanded that Emory send out a University-wide email to “decry the support for this fascist, racist candidate.” To his credit, Wagner refused to denounce a presidential candidate. The students then demanded diversity hires into the “higher positions” of the University, including the Board of Trustees and the faculty in general.

What was particularly chilling is the demand for action on faculty members who have not publicly denounced Trump or his views under the view that “[Faculty] are supporting this rhetoric by not ending it.” This failure, the students insisted, have created a threatening environment and that “people of color are struggling academically because they are so focused on trying to have a safe community and focus on these issues [related to having safe spaces on campus].”

Wagner is reportedly preparing an email and has launched an investigation to find the culprit. University police are looking at security cameras. What will they do if they find some student with the incriminating chalk? Will she or he be expelled or disciplined or publicly denounced?

I have some obvious concerns about such action. My primary concern is whether this is the truly the first time in the history of Emory University that students or faculty made political statements on sidewalks. I doubt it. Would the same effort to hunt down the writers occur if the writing referred to Sanders or Black Lives Matter or Greenpeace? If not, this would seem a content-based effort that raises serious issues of free speech. Moreover, the expectation of some of these students that faculty should be pushed to denounce Trump like some Pol Pot reeducation camp is chilling.

I have written previously how free speech is under attack in the West and we appear to be raising one of the most anti-free speech generations in the history of our country. In the name of “tolerance,” we are treating free speech as the scourge of society and a right that must be carefully controlled to “protect” others. These students believe that political views are now within the gambit of threatening speech. We have come full circle from the sixties where baby boomers discovered political and social activism on campuses — a time of great upheaval but also great exploration. However now that students and staff are embracing a conservative, the desire is to have official condemnations and investigations. Trump has clearly generated both great support and great opposition. His views, however, (particularly on immigration) are shared by millions of citizens. Indeed, those same views are prevailing in part of Europe. This is a wonderful opportunity to have a passionate and substantive debate. Why not let all political flowers bloom on campuses? Rather than immediately seek to silence those with countervailing views, the first inclination should be to engage in the debate and value the exchange of ideas.

Before Wagner takes action, the faculty should at a minimum ask for the university to address how it has previously addressed chalk art and political statements. If all chalking is now going to be treated as an offense, will the university be distinguishing art but not political art? The problem with chalk crimes is, forgive the pun, drawing lines on what is prohibited or permitted speech.

What do you think?

Source: Emory Wheel

76 thoughts on “Emory To Identify Those Who Chalked Support For Trump On Sidewalks and Walls”

  1. Wonder how much zero tolerance policies as practiced in K-12 have to do with all this?

  2. I can’t help but think that these students would be better served by focusing on their studies rather than attempting activist aggression against the administration. If they truly feel uncomfortable with Emory and its campus, there are plenty of other colleges around that they may feel more comfortable with. Of course, these students may consider as an alternative to increase their conception of tolerance towards those who may not share their particular socio-political views, i.e., attempt to be more liberal in the classical sense…

  3. I think what we’re seeing with the Trump phenomenon is revenge of white people. And I think everyone knows it but no one is saying it out loud.  And Trump’s campaign is a brilliant strategy to take back America without having to say this out loud. Even NBC’s political strategist, Chuck Todd, is elated about Trump, perhaps positioning himself to be the next White House press secretary for Trump, something Trump himself wouldn’t be against selecting a Democrat into his inner circle, another brilliant nose thumb and way to let the air out of the arrogant lefties in the media.

    America elected an outsider to the White House and that didn’t work out very well.  It’s as absurd as if Britain had somehow managed to put an outsider king or queen into Buckingham Palace. 

    Not only that, everything about all this affirmative action and multiculturalism is just plain non workable. It’s why there are over 200 countries in the world. Different people do not want to comingle. They want to retain their culture, their historical identity, their religion, their views, their everything.  In other words, if somoene from Cuba (or wherever) wants to be president as a Cuban, he or she should move to Cuba and run for office there.  Otherwise, he or she should adopt American values, the same as all of us who are descendants of immigrants who have come here from other countries and then melded into one people who believe in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    I’m so fed up with all of the special interests that have sprouted up like weeds across this nation. Even Hollywood minorities, who are earning tens of millions, are now complaining because they aren’t getting Oscar nominations.  If they directed their energy into learning how to act better for the screen, rather than wasting their energy on affirmative action for Hollywood, they might actually earn an Oscar. That’s how Sidney Portier did it anyway.

    Where will all this end? Will the Trump campaign end up as a huge brush fire to exterminate all these weeds that have taken root as political correctness and anti-white fervor?  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Trump, who grew up in the cultural revolution of the sixties, rejected the sex, drugs, and rock and roll in favor of actually working hard and getting ahead and maintaining his health, and is now well positioned to finally drive a wooden stake through the horrible social and economic experiments that began in the sixties. Seattle’s tent city for the homeless is far larger than Joe Arpaio’s tent city for inmates. If Trump is elected president, I think within a matter of months we will be seeing a gradual reversing of all of these negative trends that have been swamping this land from coast to coast. And if Trump can actually accomplish what he’s promising, there’s going to be an awful lot of people who will have to just shut up while the majority and middle class enjoy the prosperity — the way it once was.

    Personally, I’m so dissatisfied with politics now, I don’t care if there’s prosperity or implosion.

    1. vine – the House of Windsor is actually German. They changed to the House of Windsor during WWI. There hasn’t been a Celtic monarch for a long time.

  4. I am no Trump fan.

    But I think the best response to those who are afraid, in the absence of any creditable threat of violence, is an offer of mental health counseling and maybe some Prozac.

    The proper response to objectionable speech is more speech.

    If you don’t like Trump then get out there and offer support for your favorite candidate.

  5. It’s rare to find anyone, of any party, who does not view the world, and justice, through political glasses.

  6. All that matters to this generation is how they feel. A professor justified physically assay;ting 2 young women because their statements made her feel upset. A communications professor justified trying to get some “muscle” to physically assault a journalism student for covering a public protest because she felt upset.

    The college threatening a student for free speech is not a micro aggression. It is a real and present threat to the student’s scholastic and career future, as well as his or her safety. College campuses are increasingly become hostile and in some cases, unsafe, if you voice conservative opinions.

    They are threatening students and creating a hostile environment because of political discrimination.

  7. In order to be fair, every student who campaigns for Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Hillary, Bernie, or the Green Party, makes any political statement for or against Conservatives, Liberals, et al, should be expelled.

    That should put an end to this absurdity.

    We are watching the death of Free Speech and intellectualism in universities.

    1. @Karen S

      I easily found 2 law review articles advocating the adoption of hate speech laws in the US on the theory of “combating the badges and incidents of slavery”.

      Professor Turley is a rarity among liberals in his fair and uniform advocacy of free speech.

  8. This denial of free speech rights to the students who chalked support for Trump is unconstitutional. This is another example of a generation who want to criminalize speech that they don’t agree with.

  9. @PaulCS

    I think “Black Lives Matter” is more silly than Racissss! Apparently the lives of blacks don’t matter at all if Black Person A owes Black Person B money for drugs. That’s pop a cap time! The lives of black babies don’t matter to black women and black men, who can’t even bother to get married. Heck, black lives don’t even matter more than a piece of fried chicken!


    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. @squeeky fromm

      Black lives matter only if killed by a white person or a police officer.

      I would recommend anyone interested in crime statistics to google ‘the color of crime’ report from the new century foundation. Pdf is free to download.

  10. @JT

    And the hits just keep coming! From LAW PROFESSORS, no less!

    American Univ. profs: saying ‘all lives matter’ is ‘white supremacy’

    Dozens of professors from American University’s Washington College of Law (WCL) openly condemned an unknown student as a white supremacist for posting a sign with the catchphrase “All Lives Matter” on a faculty member’s door.

    “The ‘All Lives Matter’ sign might seem to be a benign message with no ill intent, but it has become a rallying cry for many who espouse ideas of white supremacy and overt racism, as well as those who do not believe the laws should equally protect those who have a different skin color or religion,” the professors wrote in a statement to the WCL community.


    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Squeeky – Is it just me or is ‘Black Lives Matter’ inherently racist? And anyone who supports this phrase is also inherently racist?

  11. @JR

    That was a fantastic article!!! Thanks for the link!!! Here is an interesting blurb from it:

    Because there is a broad ban in academic circles on “blaming the victim,” it is generally considered unacceptable to question the reasonableness (let alone the sincerity) of someone’s emotional state, particularly if those emotions are linked to one’s group identity. The thin argument “I’m offended” becomes an unbeatable trump card. This leads to what Jonathan Rauch, a contributing editor at this magazine, calls the “offendedness sweepstakes,” in which opposing parties use claims of offense as cudgels. In the process, the bar for what we consider unacceptable speech is lowered further and further.

    Since 2013, new pressure from the federal government has reinforced this trend. Federal antidiscrimination statutes regulate on-campus harassment and unequal treatment based on sex, race, religion, and national origin. Until recently, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights acknowledged that speech must be “objectively offensive” before it could be deemed actionable as sexual harassment—it would have to pass the “reasonable person” test. To be prohibited, the office wrote in 2003, allegedly harassing speech would have to go “beyond the mere expression of views, words, symbols or thoughts that some person finds offensive.”

    But in 2013, the Departments of Justice and Education greatly broadened the definition of sexual harassment to include verbal conduct that is simply “unwelcome.” Out of fear of federal investigations, universities are now applying that standard—defining unwelcome speech as harassment—not just to sex, but to race, religion, and veteran status as well. Everyone is supposed to rely upon his or her own subjective feelings to decide whether a comment by a professor or a fellow student is unwelcome, and therefore grounds for a harassment claim. Emotional reasoning is now accepted as evidence.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  12. JT……whoa….I just reread your note.
    “We have come full circle from the sixties where baby boomers discovered political and social activism on campuses — a time of great upheaval but also great exploration.”

    Did you actually attend a college in the 60s? A “great” exploration? What did you do? Follow TL’s “turn on and drop out?” Man you were on a real trip if you call those times a “great” exploration.

    It was agony. A time when so many people were trying to escape or evade. A time of betrayal … the Boomers, growing up with duck and cover then faced the reality of the Missles of October in 62, the assassinations in 63 and 68, Chicago 68 is another symbol of that pain with the hangings, torchings, and mutilations of freedom riders thrown in. And the meat grinder of the ten yrs in Southeast Asia.

    The boomers are not a monolithic block as many portray. Look closely ….we are very binary and at war with each other. The problem is succinctly caught in the statement, “they revolted from,; they didn’t revolt to.” There is no middle ground either.

    Boomers inherited the civil rights movement from those who fought WWII and Korea. We didn’t organize it, but we learned to use it to our advantage. Our kids are now parents who grew up in a near void of parenting. And, their kids are now attending colleges run by our kids. Now there are grand numbers of really good people out there, but it’s the leadership that is at issue.

    Again, there is no middle ground and the “no man’s land” region is growing.

    1. @renegade

      The centre cannot hold!

      ___ William Butler Yeats

      (commenting on the 1916 Easter Revolt)

  13. When the adult population is so apathetic about their own freedoms and the constitutional rule of law – in such a national crisis – we only have the next generation to fix it. If young people are indoctrinated to accept arbitrary (and unconstitutional) rules from their colleges, how will they vote after college?

    If the next generation of young people are as equally apathetic as their adult parents, teachers and professors – the American “constitutional democratic republic” has indeed died with a whimper.

    James Madison’s model of government would be completely dead if this continues at our universities. Congress should be mandating civics education in such an irreversible crisis.

  14. @JT

    yes, Wagner did send out an email, and here it is:

    Dear Emory Community,

    Yesterday I received a visit from 40 to 50 student protesters upset by the unexpected chalkings on campus sidewalks and some buildings yesterday morning, in this case referencing Donald Trump. The students shared with me their concern that these messages were meant to intimidate rather than merely to advocate for a particular candidate, having appeared outside of the context of a Georgia election or campus campaign activity. During our conversation, they voiced their genuine concern and pain in the face of this perceived intimidation.

    After meeting with our students, I cannot dismiss their expression of feelings and concern as motivated only by political preference or over-sensitivity. Instead, the students with whom I spoke heard a message, not about political process or candidate choice, but instead about values regarding diversity and respect that clash with Emory’s own.

    As an academic community, we must value and encourage the expression of ideas, vigorous debate, speech, dissent, and protest. At the same time, our commitment to respect, civility, and inclusion calls us to provide a safe environment that inspires and supports courageous inquiry. It is important that we recognize, listen to, and honor the concerns of these students, as well as faculty and staff who may feel similarly.

    On the heels of work begun by students last fall and advanced last month through the Racial Justice Retreat and subsequent working groups, Emory is taking a number of significant steps:

    • Immediate refinements to certain policy and procedural deficiencies (for example, our bias incident reporting and response process);

    • Regular and structured opportunities for difficult dialogues (like the Transforming Community Project of several years ago);

    • A formal process to institutionalize identification, review, and addressing of social justice opportunities and issues; and

    • Commitment to an annual retreat to renew our efforts.

    To keep moving forward, we must continue to engage in rich and meaningful dialogue around critical issues facing our nation and our society. I learn from every conversation like the one that took place yesterday and know that further conversations are necessary. More than that, such discussions should lead to action that continues to foster a more just and inclusive Emory.

    Jim Wagner


    He just have just told the idiots to pound sand.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  15. “What do we have to do for you to listen to us?”

    Perhaps say something sensible, and see what happens.

  16. This is a result of all the “demonization” that the Liberals have been doing for decades. Why be surprised that there is a lack of “rationality” in all this? When is the last time Liberals did anything except call anyone who disagrees with them, Racissss! or Homophobe! or Sexist! When discussion and argumentation is replaced by name-calling and sound bites, this kind of stuff is what you get.

    And, FWIW, why should the Democratic Party leadership object to this kind of silliness? As long as the kids don’t think, they’ll vote Democratic!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  17. I would be embarrassed to be going to college today. Thank the Good Lord my son is choosing technical school, will be done sooner than those in college and will be earning a better wage than my college degree has ever earned me.

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