Greek Week events cancelled after members painted pro-Trump messages on free speech wall
Image screenshot from Twitter
National Greek leaders cancelled several events scheduled for an upcoming Greek Week at Ohio University after discovering students involved in Greek life graffitied pro-Trump messages on a free speech wall, including his popular promise to “build a wall.”
A letter addressed to the “OU Sorority and Fraternity Life community and supporters,” and signed by several national Greek organizations, condemned the message as “offensive and hurtful.”
"The phrase is offensive and hurtful to many individuals as it is directly tied to the Hispanic/Latino/a community..."
“The phrase is offensive and hurtful to many individuals as it is directly tied to the Hispanic/Latino/a community, makes them feel marginalized, and the message was interpreted that they do not belong at Ohio University,” the letter stated.
The names of the students involved in the incident, though, were excluded from the letter as it “is not at the center of this controversy.” The students will not face any disciplinary actions, the letters states, because their actions were within the bounds of free speech.
However, the Greek leaders announced in the letter that several upcoming events would be cancelled and that no alcohol would be allowed during Greek Week. The national leaders, however, insisted that the changes were not meant to be a punishment.
“In making these changes, we understand that there are many who will feel that this is a punishment,” the governing councils stated in their letter. “We acknowledge that some teams have made efforts to be inclusive, but as a collective it is our responsibility to hold each other accountable with the ultimate goal of unifying the community.”
Students in OU’s Hispanic and Latino Student Union even called an emergency meeting after the messages appeared, saying something had to be done immediately.
“The goal of the meeting was to start a discussion,” Carla Triana, president of the union, said. “We heard about the mural at 9:00 this morning, and we had to do something instantaneously. We had to educate people on why this was offensive.”
Top university officials attended the meeting, including the president, who called the messages “troubling.”
“Indeed, this wall is a place of free speech and expression, however, the words painted were troubling because they had a very different meaning to some than they may have to others viewing the message or even to those who painted the message,” President Roderick McDavis wrote in an email after the emergency meeting.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski