At Emory, a trail of Trump tears

Emory University crosses the current race for the GOP presidential nomination with tales of the Ivory Tower. Students protested on campus earlier this week at the Emory Administration Building following a mysteriously appearing series of overnight, pro- Trump for president (“Trump 2016”) chalkings. The chalkings were too much to bear for many students who received no trigger warnings.

“I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe [here],” one student said. “But this man is being supported by students on our campus and our administration shows that they, by their silence, support it as well … I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school,” she added.

The Emory Wheel reports:

Roughly 40 students gathered shortly after 4:30 p.m. in the outdoors space between the Administration Building and Goodrich C. White Hall; many students carried signs featuring slogans such as “Stop Trump” or “Stop Hate” and an antiphonal chant addressed to University administration, led by College sophomore Jonathan Peraza, resounded “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” throughout the Quad. Peraza opened the door to the Administration Building and students moved forward towards the door, shouting “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

Freedom is slavery, or something like that. Chalk this: Orwell 1984!

An update to the story late last night shows that the Emory administration has responded about as you might expect. President Wagner has vowed to bring the situation under control by tweaking the rules to clamp down on free expression, if I’m reading this right (which isn’t easy, as you’ll see):

The following day, University President James W. Wagner, as well as representatives from College Council (CC) and Student Government Association (SGA) sent emails to the Emory community to address student concerns and responses. In his University-wide email, Wagner wrote that he intends to implement “immediate refinements to certain policy and procedural deficiencies, regular and structured opportunities for difficult dialogues, a formal process to institutionalize identification, review and [the] addressing of social justice opportunities and issues and a commitment to an annual retreat to renew our efforts.” Wagner added in his email that the previous day’s chalkings represented “values regarding diversity and respect that clash with Emory’s own.”

President Wagner has the bureaucrat’s gift of verbose obfuscation, but you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Here is the rest of the story so far:

In the joint email sent on behalf of CC and SGA, representatives wrote that they “remain unapologetically dedicated to inclusion, diversity and equity,” and that both institutions will stand in solidarity with any Emory students who have encountered a lack of safety and support. To provide Emory students an opportunity to discuss such support and inclusivity on Emory’s campus, SGA will hold office hours on Thursday, March 24 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and CC will hold office hours on Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

According to the Dobbs University Center’s (DUC) Posting Policy, chalking must be reserved and approved through Emory’s campus reservation service, 25Live. The Posting Policy says that: chalk cannot be on columns or walls, it must be done on horizontal, ground surfaces and areas where rain can easily wash it away. Failure to comply with these policies results in a clean up fee. Chalking also may only remain for 48 hours. After this time, another group can chalk, if they reserve their chalking through 25Live.

The DUC’s Posting Policy also points out that the DUC is guided by the University’s policy on open expression, and any member of the Emory community who violates the open expression of others will be held in violation of said policy.

According to Emory University’s Open Expression Policy, “nonpersonal protests” such as chalking, should follow “all applicable flyer posting policies and banner reservation rules.” It also states that “no nonpersonal protests will be denied because of the content” of the display as long as they falls within the law, and that members of the community who “deface the open expression of others” are also violating this policy.

Let me repeat for emphasis: Unauthorized nonpersonal protests (including chalking) are prohibited on campus, but no nonpersonal protests are to be denied because of content. So the Trump 2016 chalking may have been permitted if permission had been sought.

How can that be? You can see how someone chalking Trump 2016 with a permit could create a whirlwind of rage and tears on campus, and why President Wagner has vowed to fine tune a policy with such wildly unanticipated results.