In spite of backlash on campus, the incoming student government leadership coalition at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is still demanding a fellow representative step down after helping chalk a message supporting Donald Trump.
As reported by The Daily Caller, the leadership ticket “Empower UTC” issued a statement calling upon a member of its coalition, Hailey Puckett, to resign because they say her pro-Trump chalking promoted “bigotry.” (RELATED: Student Government At Public University Wants To Kick Out Member Over Pro-Trump Chalking)
Several UTC students expressed outrage at the apparent suppression of speech via social media, and the new SGA president-elect Phillip Stubblefield issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon that appeared to backtrack from the resignation demand.
However, later that night, another statement from the incoming executive team clarified that they still wanted Puckett to resign over her Trump chalking.
In the statement, tweeted out by vice president-elect Mikayla Long, Empower UTC said that it requested Puckett to resign not because she supported Trump, but because her chalk mark showed she could not “represent students effectively.”
“EMPOWERUTC would never ask someone to step down because of their political ideologies. We want to promote diversity and inclusivity to the best of our ability, and any member of our coalition or of SGA is allowed to support any candidate of their choosing,” the statement read.
It also emphasized that the group “absolutely does not support the silencing of students with opposing opinions.”
However, the claim student leaders did not ask Puckett to resign over showing support for Trump is contradicted by the original Wednesday morning statement.
In the initial call for removal, the student group specifically mentioned that it could not support those who “spread” and/or “bask in” Trump’s “ignorance.” It also noted, “We will not will not… represent those who support the oppression of others.”
There was no mention in the original statement of how the Trump marking demonstrated the inability to represent students effectively.
Additionally, Long contradicted the clarification in a subsequent tweet, which stated that incoming student executive council had a right to denounce Puckett’s support of Trump’s rhetoric.
“[W]e can’t denounce her support of a candidate. [W]e can denounce her support of a candidate’s rhetoric,” Long said.
The controversy started on Tuesday after Puckett helped draw a chalkwork that read “Trump 2016” and was adorned with a “Make America Great Again” hat and a brick wall. It was likely done as part of the nationwide phenomenon known as #TheChalkening — a movement that encourages students to draw pro-Trump messages as an act of protest against campus political correctness. (RELATED: The Frat Site That Helped Ignite #TheChalkening Speaks Out)
Puckett has drawn equally strong reactions in favor, and in opposition, to her lone act of chalking. Those who were upset with her drawing came to campus shortly after she tweeted about it to dump water on it and draw opposing slogans. One person spray-painted “Fuck Trump” near the center of campus.
Unfortunately for those upset by the original Trump drawing, more pro-Trump chalkings appeared Thursday morning on campus.
Puckett has yet to respond publicly to the calls for her resignation.