Students at Emory University are blasting the school’s administration for allegedly creating an unsafe environment by not actively denouncing support for Donald Trump on campus.
About 40 students assembled outside Emory’s administration building Monday afternoon, after a series of chalk markings promoting Trump popped up on campus overnight. The protesters made a series of demands of administrators, including that the school officially denounce support for Trump and stop making pro-Trump chalk markings. Even though the chalk markings all appear to have been entirely mundane, students said they felt physically threatened by the chalk’s mere presence.
“I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe [here],” one student said, according to The Emory Wheel. “But this man is being supported by students on our campus and our administration shows that they, by their silence, support it as well … I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school.”
One student, reportedly in tears, said it was the university’s duty to fight back against Trump to defend Emory’s values of diversity and inclusivity. Another suggested that if Emory doesn’t denounce Trump, it’s the equivalent of endorsing his proposals.
“Banning Muslims? How is that something Emory supports?” the student asked.
After a while, the protest moved from outdoors into a board room, where the students met with Emory president James Wagner. A student asked Wagner to have the school send out a campus-wide email “decry[ing] the support for this fascist, racist candidate.”
“No, we will not,” Wagner said in reply, according to the school’s newspaper. But after spending an hour being lobbied by the students, Wagner gave ground, saying he would start drafting an email regarding the sidewalk chalk.
That email was subsequently sent out Tuesday morning, and in it Wagner treated the students’ safety fears over the chalk as completely legitimate.
“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,” Wagner said. “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.”
Wagner didn’t overtly denounce Trump, but he ended his email by promising to improve the school’s bias incident reporting system and strengthen Emory’s commitment to social justice causes.
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