From the ‘Greatest Generation’ to the ‘Crybaby Generation.’ Students at Emory University are going to be provided counseling if they have been frightened by chalk writing.
You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
A number of chalk scrawls in support of GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump that read, “Trump” and “Trump 2016” on campus sparked a huge demonstration by students who demanded — and were granted — a meeting with the university’s president, who promised action.
The students claimed the chalk messages made them feel concerned and frightened and they voiced “genuine concern and pain” as a result, Emory President Jim Wagner wrote Tuesday, one day after meeting with 40 to 50 student demonstrators.
The Atlanta university on Wednesday provided the press a copy of Wagner’s letter, in which the university offered classes and counseling seminars to students confronted by Trump’s name in chalk.
Some compared the chalk drawings to Nazi propaganda.
“If there were pro-Hitler things around the campus or swastikas, Emory would have taken a stance on it,” student protester, Lolade Oshin, 20, said.
Students at Monday’s protest chanted, “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” shortly before Wagner agreed to meet with them, Emory’s student newspaper, The Wheel, reported.
Slogans such as “Trump 2016” were written in chalk on campus sidewalks and some buildings sometime during the weekend. One of the chalk messages stated “Build a wall,” said one of the students at the protest, Jonathan Peraza, 19, who said he is of Latino heritage and went to high school in suburban Atlanta.
“It was an intentional way to rile students up and intimidate those of us who feel we are in danger with this presidential candidate,” Peraza said. “We do feel that our lives are in danger with his campaign and the violence that he’s been inciting.”
“We’re getting targets put on our backs because we’re speaking out for the things that we need,” he said. “I’m literally watching my back all over campus.”
Oshin and other students are frustrated, she said, at what they perceive as rhetoric from university officials and not enough concrete actions to promote tolerance.
Oshin said she’s meeting Friday with Emory administrators, who have been working for months on several policy changes, which Wagner outlined in his letter to students.
The changes include refinements to the school’s “bias incident reporting and response procedure,” Wagner wrote. Emory is also taking steps to have regular opportunities for “difficult dialogues,” he wrote.
Wagner’s letter is as follows:
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.