Campus Free Speech

Scripps College Student Body President Says 'Trump 2016' Whiteboard Message Is 'Intentional Violence'

Like Emory University, except stupider.



Here we go again: a Mexican-American student at Scripps College woke up to find that someone had scrawled "Trump 2016" on her white board. (I gather that the board is on her dorm room door.) The student-government president has condemned the messages as "intentional violence" and vowed to punish the perpetrator. 

Minjoo Kim is student body president of the private women's college in Claremont, California. On Saturday, she sent a campus-wide email alerting fellow students to the whiteboard incident and informing them of the counselling and bias-reporting services available to the traumatized. 

"This racist act is completely unacceptable," wrote Kim, according to Inside Higher Ed. "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." 

At least the person who chalked "Trump 2016" all over Emory University's campus did indeed violate some rules. 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. 

I understand that a lot of college students don't like Donald Trump. I don't like him, either. But many of his supporters are particularly enthusiastic about his willingness to violate political correctness—to say the unsayable, regardless of whether it's offensive. It is not wise to counter this narrative by feeding into it: by becoming even more hysterically offended by the mere utterance of his name. 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?