Emory University Students Receive Counseling After “Trump 2016” Chalkings-Truth! & Misleading!
Summary of eRumor:
Claims that students at Emory University were offered counseling after pro-Donald Trump slogans like “Trump 2016” were chalked around the university’s campus have gone viral.
Claims about Donald Trump chalkings at Emory University and student counseling that followed are mostly true, but they’re also misleading.
It’s true that students were offended by pro-Donald Trump slogans that were written in chalk around the campus — and around buildings used by black and Latino students in particular — without proper permission. But claims about counseling offered to those students are misleading, and borderline false.
First, we’ll start out by providing some background.
An unknown group wrote pro-Donald Trump slogans like “Accept the Inevitable: Trump 2016” and “Build a Wall” around Emory University’s campus on March 21st. That sparked outcry, backlash and protest from students who found the slogans intimidating or offensive given the tone of Trump’s presidential campaign, student newspaper The Emory Wheel reports.
A statement released by a group of Emory University students provided context into why some were offended and/or intimidated by the pro-Trump chalkings. The group explained that posters and slogans also appeared around the campus before the Georgia primaries, but the March 21st chalkings were different because of their volume and placement near buildings where black and Latino student groups gather. The fact that chalkings were written anonymously, and without university permission, were aggravating factors, according to a statement in Black Star Magazine:
On Monday, March 21st, 2016, students on Emory University’s campus were met with an overwhelming number of pro-Donald Trump messages, which were chalked onto buildings, walkways, brick and concrete around campus. The messages included, but were not limited to: “Vote Trump 2016”, “Build a Wall”, and “Accept the Inevitable Trump 2016.” Prior to the Georgia Primaries, posters and chalkings also appeared on campus in favor of various candidates including Donald Trump. However, in this situation, permission was granted from the University, and posters were placed in an observant manner. On the 21st of March, the intense presence of pro-Trump statements and/or rhetoric could be seen in every direction students walked. Most notably, in the Dobbs University Center–where the Black Student Union, Centro Latino, and main dining hall are located–the phrase “Vote Trump 2016” was deliberately placed on 58 steps.
This means, Black and Brown students saw these messages on their way to class, meals, and their places of fellowship.
Trump’s messages of division (racist, xenophobic, homophobic, ableist, and sexist) make reference to anon-post racial state. Fellow students’ complacency with the narratives of Donald Trump and the aggressive condemnation of Black and Brown students’ responses reflects a lack of concern for the very real consequences of his campaign policies.
In The Emory Wheel, University President James W. Wagner discussed the chalkings, student protests and the response of the administration, including “structured opportunities for difficult dialogues,” which clearly meets the definition of counseling:
“Look, I’m so pleased I was in the building when [the protesters] arrived,” he said. “The opportunity to listen and their willingness to try to explain more and more clearly to me the root of the concerns was very effective.”
In a campus-wide email, Wagner outlined four steps that administrators plan to take in order to address the issues raised by the protesters. He proposed “immediate refinements to certain policies and procedural deficiencies; regular and structured opportunities for difficult dialogues; a formal process to institutionalize identification, review and addressing of social justice opportunities and issues; and commitment to an annual retreat to renew [their] efforts.”
So, it’s true that Emory University students were offered “structured opportunities for difficult dialogues” with other students and campus faculty — but the insinuation that this was a form of grief counseling is misleading at best. It would be more on par with a form of couples therapy with ultimate goal being conflict resolution.
Ajay Nair, the senior vice president and dean of campus life at Emory University, provided more insight about the administration’s response in a post that appears at Inside Higher Ed:
The intensity, timing and anonymity of the “Trump 2016” chalking incident produced a tipping point. In the context of a college campus, we thrive on open and civil dialogue, inviting even the most controversial perspectives and remarks. The college setting is a laboratory where students may, for the first time, grapple with such issues. Those conversations by their very nature can be difficult and
Demeaning language and personal threats are counterproductive and undercut the arguments that prioritize open expression, as well as those that call for a more sensitive community.
It is unequivocally wrong to suggest that students who support the Trump 2016 campaign should not have a right to express their support. Similarly, students opposed to the campaign have the right to express their views on what Trump 2016 means to them. One of our fundamental responsibilities as educators is to encourage respectful student activism across the array of complex public issues that challenge our nation and the world.
So, again, Nair reiterated that there should be room on campus for those who support Donald Trump’s message and those who oppose it to express their views — and that educators needed to encourage “respectful student activism.” One way to do that is through the “structured opportunities for difficult dialogues” that Wagner referenced.
So, given all that, we’re call this one mostly truth and misleading. It’s true that students were upset and offended about the Trump graffiti, but claims about counseling offered to them are misleading.