The president of a college in Atlanta has responded to demonstrators who said they were offended by “Trump 2016” chalk signs around campus.
Students at Emory University said their “safe space” was violated when messages of support for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump began appearing around campus, the Daily Mail reports.
University president Jim Wagner wrote a letter on March 22 stating that students viewed the messages as intimidation. He wrote that students voiced “genuine concern and pain” because of it.
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Earlier Wagner had written that students offended by seeing Trump’s name in chalk “heard a message about values regarding diversity and respect that clash with Emory's own.”
Wagner took action after the student government slammed the university’s response. A meeting was held, which led to a protest on March 22.
Administrators are now looking to track down those responsible for the chalk markings.
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However, not everyone agrees with the upset students. Some commentators on the university’s student newspaper The Wheel accused the students of being babies.
Student organizations have reportedly offered counseling to students who were impacted by what they had seen.
The Wheel outlined four steps that administrators plan to take in order to address the concerns of protesters. Wagner said he will be looking into whether the chalkings were in compliance with Emory’s policy but added that he believes the real issue protesters had were with the ideas the chalkings stood for rather than how they were executed.
According to The Wheel, students chanted “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain” during the protests.
The newspaper’s editor, Zak Hudak, wrote an editorial about the incident on March 23. He wrote, in part:
I do not take lightly the fears and pains of those students who felt victimized by the 'Trump 2016' chalkings around campus, and I try my best to support oppressed groups on campus.
The duty of a newspaper to give a voice to the voiceless surpasses that of echoing those in power. I acknowledge again that Donald Trump is unlike any recent candidate who has lasted to this stage of a presidential election and that, for many Emory students, support of him holds a different connotation than support for Hillary Clinton or John Kasich.
It is nonetheless necessary to ask those protesters what would happen should the tables be turned. Suppose we had a different administration.
Suppose it was ruled that protests, such as the one on Tuesday, made Trump supporters feel threatened on campus. Freedom of speech works both ways, and its hindrance affects both sides.
It is not the role of an institution that is devoted to the critical education of its students to tell those students which opinions they are allowed to have.
On March 23, the “Trump 2016” chalkings were replaced with messages of anti-hate, the Daily Mail notes.