Reagan, Thatcher busts defaced at Chapman University

The defaced busts included Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, and Albert Schweitzer.

Students at Chapman University in Orange, California awoke Wednesday morning to find statues of various political figures defaced and accused of crimes including "racism," "homophobia," and "neo-liberalist ideology."

UPDATE: Chapman University has now provided a statement on the defacement, which has been added to the bottom of this article.|

Students at Chapman University awoke Wednesday morning to find many of the statues around campus strewn with caution tape and defaced with accusations of “racism,” “homophobia,” and “neo-liberalist ideology.”

The statues, depicting historical figures such as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Ayn Rand, were also ornamented with posters reading off a list of “charges” for “student review.”

“Ronald Reagan is under student review due to Racism, Classism, and Homophobia,” read the poster underneath the bust of the 40th president.

The vandals also defaced a statue of Margaret Thatcher, filing the same charges against her.

The vandals also accused Christian theologian and medical missionary Albert Schweitzer of “Racism and White Savior Complex.”

Charges of “Global Violence and Imperialism” were brought against free-market economist Milton Friedman while objectivist thinker Ayn Rand was accused of “Gender Roles and Homophobia.”

Campus Reform spoke to the Reddit user who originally uploaded the images of the defaced statues to the TumblrInAction subreddit.

Reaction online was mostly negative.

“I would go around and replace all the signs with ‘I'm butthurt so I defaced all these statues,’” Reddit user ckiemnstr345 wrote.

“This is some dystopian level shit[,] man,” wrote The_Bae-lor_Swift.

"Milton [expletive] Friedman? An imperialist? Are you kidding me?" wrote another.

The Reddit thread had a little over 1,000 upvotes at the time of publication.

The Redditor who posted the photos, who requested anonymity, claimed to be a student at Chapman and said that this sort of liberal activism on campus was nothing new.

The poster, who goes by the username TheRealLouisWu, said they weren’t sure how the campus had reacted to the defacement.

The poster went on to say that, though they disliked many of the people represented in the defaced statues, they disagreed with “the way in which this was done and the terms used,” and viewed the vandals as “misinformed.”

Chapman University spokeswoman Mary Platt told Campus Reform that school officials believe they have identified the perpetrators of the defacement via social media posts. However, citing the student’s right to freedom of speech, the university said that it was not planning on punishing those responsible.

Platt went on to say how many university officials were pleased with the conversations that the defacement had sparked and they would likely leave the tape and posters up for a few more days (however, the original poster of the Reddit thread said that the defacements had already been removed).

Sarah Mori, a junior at the university, told Campus Reform that she “was blindsided by this ‘review’ of the busts," and suggested that a debate could have been organized, instead. 

Another student who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from liberal students said of the defacement, “I was incredibly offended” and called it “disrespectful.”

The anonymous student went on to note how this wasn’t the first time they’d felt uncomfortable as a result of liberalism on campus, citing “white privilege” boards that had been displayed earlier in the year. 

After initial publication of this article, Platt provided a statement to Campus Reform explaining the university's official view.

“All Chapman University students and faculty are encouraged to speak their minds and express their personal opinions, both privately and in public forums, on any topics they wish.  Sometimes those topics may not necessarily reflect the beliefs and viewpoints of the institution or its leaders, but the University strongly supports the right of free expression for members of our learning community and welcomes the opportunity to engage in respectful dialogue," Platt told Campus Reform. 

"Because the statues in question were not vandalized, but simply have signage placed on them – and although University policy states that all signage on campus must be authorized – the University administration acknowledges the students’ right to express their views and will allow the signage to remain until the end of the week, when staff typically remove unauthorized or outdated signage on campus."

Platt noted that it had been interesting to "watch the 'dialogue'" on the statues "as other students have added to the signage of posted their own signs."

"Right now the signage seems to be running about 2 to 1 against the viewpoints of the original posters," she said.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @cabot_phillips