While some students have countered speech with speech, writing slogans for other candidates and ideas, a backlash against the idea of sheltered, too-easily-offended liberal students is spreading on social media, with Trump supporters and some free-speech advocates urging “chalkening” college campuses.
It’s not just about Trump: The tensions over free speech have boiled over at many colleges this past year, as student protests over race and bias issues in places such as Yale and the University of Missouri have led to heated debates about the First Amendment and what crosses the line into hate speech.
The conservative student group Young Americans for Liberty announced a “Fight for Free Speech” beginning Wednesday with events happening on campuses nationally, warning that opposing ideas are too readily stomped out.
In the midst of that debate, and all the intensity of the presidential campaign, the pro-Trump “chalkenings” have taken hold.
People have chalked Trump’s name and related messages at colleges including the University of Michigan, the University of Kansas and elsewhere. Some images shared on social media can’t be easily confirmed, since chalk can so quickly be washed or rained away.
In some cases, people simply wrote “Trump 2016” or “Make America Great Again.”
But some included messages targeting a specific ideology or ethnicity, such as at Michigan, where someone wrote, “Stop Islam.”
(A spokesman for William & Mary said he could not confirm Trump campaign slogans were written on campus.)
At UCSD, where the chalk appeared the night before Triton Day, when recently admitted students are welcomed to campus, the candidate’s name appeared alongside anti-Mexican profanity and messages such as “deport them all.” Some of it was written outside a campus community center for Latino students.
A provost at UCSD issued a statement Monday decrying the messages and “any attempt to sow division by stigmatizing certain populations or communities.”
And the chancellor, executive vice chancellor and vice chancellors also posted a statement Monday:
A series of incidents occurring on college and university campuses across the United States have reflected our nation’s current divisive political climate. Unfortunately, late Friday evening graffiti promoting the deportation of undocumented immigrants and the construction of a wall on the border of Mexico was discovered chalked on UC San Diego’s campus sidewalks. This graffiti runs counter to our campus values of equity and inclusion. We value diversity and respect for all cultures.UC San Diego is steadfast in the commitment to our Principles of Community which reflect a collective dedication to a campus where we uphold each individual’s right to dignity, justice and respect. We affirm the Principles of Community as the guide for all campus citizens as we move forward to foster the best working and learning environment.
The UCSD College Democrats wrote on social media:
We are deeply disturbed by reports this morning that hooded male adults were seen writing pro-Trump propaganda as well as violently racist and xenophobic quotes such as “build the wall”, “deport them all”, “f‑‑‑ Mexicans”, and “Mexico will pay” all over our campus including in front of the UCSD Raza Resource Centro (pictured).These actions were clearly tied to the huge crowds that will be drawn to campus for Triton Day and our club will be out in force to let the Class of 2020 know that UCSD is an inclusive community and that #LoveTrumpsHate because quite frankly we’re sick of this …
The group did not immediately return requests for comment Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for the Trump campaign said in an email message that she believes the trend began on social media.
A member of the campaign staff has been sharing photos on social media, as well: