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March 30 2016

You Might Have Thought the Hysteria at Emory U. Over the "Vote Trump" Chalkings Was a One-Off

Charlotte Allen

Everyone laughed when students at Emory University complained last week that they "feared for" their lives over some "Vote Trump" and "Trump 2016" slogans chalked in pastels onto campus sidewalks--and Emory president Jim Wagner "Trump"-eted his empathy with the "genuine concern and pain" the aggrieved students said they felt.

Well, not everybody laughed. No sooner had the Trump-traumatized Emory students secured their private meeting with the empathetic Wagner than someone scribbled "Trump 2016" into a whiteboard hanging from the door of a Mexican-American student at Scripps College. Horrors! Student body president Minjoo Kim promptly sent around an e-mail message-lined "Racist Incident" to her fellow students, at Scripps, a women's college that is part of a five-college consortium in Claremont, California.

The e-mail, according to Inside Higher Education, read in part:

This racist act is completely unacceptable.Regardless of your political party, this intentional violence committed directly to a student of color proves to be another testament that racism continues to be an undeniable problem and alarming threat on our campuses. If you consider yourself an ally, talk to your friends and peers about racism and continue to educate yourselves on what you can do to combat racism inside and outside of Scripps and the greater 5Cs. Campus Safety has been notified and we hope to find the person responsible so they can be held accountable for their actions.

As Reason magazine's Robby Soave, a self-declared anti-Trumpian, writes:

At least the person who chalked "Trump 2016" all over Emory University's campus did indeed violate some rules [against confining campus graffiti to designated spaces]. The same cannot be said of the responsible party at Scripps. Whiteboards are explicitly for leaving messages. The Mexican-American student might not have liked the message, but on its face, it isn't offensive and doesn't constitute harassment. It certainly isn't violence, intentional or otherwise. (Perhaps it was a joke!) 

If Scripps students want to talk their friends about racism, that's fine. And if this specific student doesn't like what people write on her whiteboard, maybe she should take it down. There is no reason for the college to investigate the matter and there is certainly no reason to discipline the perpetrator....

How can we stop Trump if everyone who loathes him cries "microaggression" and runs screaming for their lives each time they encounter a "Trump 2016" sign?

But running screaming is what these onion-skinned college students are doing--with the full support of...you guessed it, college professors. In another story, Inside Higher Ed quotes this prof:

“To just think about the word ‘Trump’ as simply showing or expressing support of Trump is not exactly the entire story here,” said Eddie Comeaux, associate professor of higher education at the University of California at Riverside. “It’s borderline silly to think there’s not more meaning attached to” chanting the name of a candidate that “plays on the fears of some of the most vulnerable, the most uninformed and misguided.”

And back at Emory Ajay Nair, dean of student life, wrote this for Inside Higher Ed a few days after the chalkings appeared:

[M]any students who are members of marginalized groups have encountered intolerance much of their lives. These lived experiences inform their campus activism. At Emory, like many other institutions, students have been subjected to bias incidents based on various aspects of their identities, including race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and political views. Such acts -- both overt and subtle -- take a profound toll on students on campuses that they genuinely want to embrace as home and haven....

The intensity, timing and anonymity of the “Trump 2016” chalking incident produced a tipping point. In the context of a college campus, we thrive on open and civil dialogue, inviting even the most controversial perspectives and remarks. The college setting is a laboratory where students may, for the first time, grapple with such issues. Those conversations by their very nature can be difficult and must take place in a safe environment that is inclusive and guided by mutual respect and civility.

Demeaning language and personal threats are counterproductive and undercut the arguments that prioritize open expression, as well as those that call for a more sensitive community.

Shorter version: A college campus really is a daycare center--and we mustn't upset the little fraidy-cats by expressing support for a presidential candidate whose very name makes them feel all scared.

 



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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