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Trump chalking at Emory has been blown out of proportion

Students are overreacting to acceptable politicking

Recently, political chalk messages in support of Donald Trump appeared on Emory University’s campus, with phrases such as “Vote Trump 2016,” “Accept the Inevitable” and “Build the Wall.” The chalk has triggered significant uproar from Emory students who protested to the administration and shouted that they are “in pain.” Trump supporters should have the right to engage in chalking campaigns so long as Emory permits political chalking. It is disingenuous for those who deride the campus protestors to reduce the issue to a matter of hurt feelings, but the protesters’ time would be better spent addressing social issues specific to their campus; though the candidate himself may not be, the chalkings in question are relatively innocuous.

Trump is the frontrunner for his party, and to attack slogans supporting his campaign does not address the root of any issues particular to a college campus. Of course, students should be active in politics, but to equate this kind of support for a candidate — tantamount to a bumper sticker on someone’s car — with the issues in their social climate makes little sense. According to Young Democrats of Emory President Alexius Marcano, the protests were not made in support of censorship, nor were they protesting Trump as a candidate or his voters. Rather, the protesters were “using their free speech to express their concerns about the circumstances.” A joint response from several Emory organizations said: “We firmly believe that this has far exceeded what can reasonably be considered simply an expression of political support… Arguing for his plausibility as the leader of the free world has become a threat to… communities at Emory and across the country.” The organizations did not condemn the right to chalk in support of Trump; rather, they condemned the hateful ideas associated with the messages. Yet, these vague responses do not suggest a connection between this chalking and issues at Emory.

Emory has seen several controversies in recent history, including the vandalization of a Jewish fraternity with swastikas and a column by Emory President James W. Wagner praising the bipartisan nature of the three-fifths compromise. These issues are far more significant than political chalkings.

We understand that to students who don’t feel like their college experiences are affected by these types of incidents, it may be easier to dismiss pro-Trump chalking as a mild nuisance. For those for whom the messages send signals about the values which Trump has stood for — at various points, racism, sexism and xenophobia — an endorsement for Trump is a reminder of those values which are inimical to cultivating an open campus environment. But chalking “Vote Trump 2016” is not the same as reiterating Trump’s many controversial statements. Emory — and many schools — has its fair share of issues, but this particular incident has been blown out of proportion.


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