Chalk Talk

Political erasure


The sudden appearance of "Trump 2016" chalk messages all over Emory University's campus caused alarm among easily offended students. Some described the scribblings as racial intimidation, others as deliberate violence. Emory's president even felt compelled to issue a statement in support of students who feared for their own safety.

Off campus, media observers wondered what all the fuss was about. "Trump 2016" is, after all, a straightforward message of political advocacy. While the drawings were numerous and violated the private university's rules on chalking, no evidence has surfaced that the perpetrator was motivated by racial animus. Nevertheless, Emory President James Wagner vowed to hunt down the responsible party.

Other universities are now dealing with their own pro-Trump microaggressions. At Scripps College in California, someone wrote "Trump 2016" on a student's white board, in a move the student body president called "intentional violence." And at the University of Michigan, chalkers had the audacity to scrawl "Trump 2016" and "Stop Islam" on the Diag, a public square in the center of campus.

Michigan is a public university, where students enjoy broad First Amendment protections. And the campus is no stranger to political activity—the Diag is commonly littered with flyers advertising various causes and covered in chalk messages. But that didn't stop offended students from notifying campus police and demanding the chalk be removed.

When the cops didn't help, students grabbed a bucket of water and went to work themselves. "There should be some kind of emergency number besides the police," student Banen Al-Sheemary told The Michigan Daily.