A bizarre little story from our neck of the woods here in Georgia is starting to get press around the country. Apparently, someone at Emory University in Atlanta is a Donald Trump supporter and has been writing “Trump 2016” in chalk in various locales around the campus. Sadly, this has become a sore point of controversy for some students, and earlier this week they made themselves known by showing up at the office of University President James Wagner and protesting!
See, the students’ felt that the message “Trump 2016” was “meant to intimidate rather than merely to advocate for a particular candidate.” The students also voiced “concern and pain” at the perceived intimidation.
Yes, this is the nation we live in today where young adults allow themselves to “feel” intimidated by a campaign slogan as innocuous as “Trump 2016.”
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So, how did the University’s president respond to the controversy? By pandering, of course.
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.
Are you kidding me?
So, a group of 50 or 60 adults shows up to complain that they are being intimidated by chalk drawings that say “Trump 2016” and the school’s educated leader says let’s talk about racism?
First, the very notion that the man’s last name and the year could possible be construed as “intimidation” is completely farcical. Secondly, that Trump’s rhetoric is today considered “racist,” speaks only to the truth that our modern culture has devalued the meaning of some very important words. Finally, Wagner argues that “we must continue to engage in rich and meaningful dialogue around critical issues facing our nation and our society” while seeming to not understand that he and these protesters are actually doing the exact opposite. By reacting to the chalk “Trump 2016” message in such a radically inappropriate way they are serving to destroy any opportunity for real “meaningful” dialogue. While pretending to believe that the chalk messages could be misconstrued as “intimidating,” they are actually intimidating those who disagree and ensuring that on-campus nonconformists be silenced.
It’s not Trump and his supporters shutting down speech at Emory University, it’s the whiny fascists who attend and run the school who are doing so.Donald Trump
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