Trump chalking hysteria spreads to Michigan
Outrage and fear inspired by pro-Donald Trump chalkings spread to the University of Michigan Wednesday, prompting students to file bias reports and even notify the police.
According to the Michigan Daily, university President Mark Schissel confirmed in a statement Thursday afternoon that slogans including “Stop Islam,” “Trump 2016,” and “Build the Wall” had appeared on campus, though students had already washed most of them away by that point.
Several students found the chalkings so offensive that they decided to alert the school’s Division of Public Safety and Security. A campus police officer responded to the scene, but told the students that there was little the department could do because it was after hours, at which point the students took it upon themselves to douse the writings with water and wipe them away.
“This is so reflective of our student campus and the depths of racism and the things that students of color have to endure and that the administration is continuously silent on,” said Banen Al-Sheemary, one of the students who contacted police about the chalkings. “It’s irresponsible of the administration that we are actually out here with buckets of water and napkins to clean off these hateful messages and the administration isn’t taking care of it.”
Al-Sheemary also complained that she had to call campus police at all, saying the university should provide other resources that students can turn to when they encounter such emergencies as pro-Trump slogans.
“I’ve been getting bounced around from one person to another, and I understand it’s after hours, but there should be some kind of emergency number besides the police because a lot of students of color don’t feel comfortable calling the police,” she told Michigan Daily. “They’re our only resource and that I think is ridiculous.”
Tahany Alsabahi, another student who contacted DPSS about the incident, concurred with Al-Sheemary, saying, “There needs to be another resource for students, and I think, also, the University has to speak out against these things.”
University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald addressed both of those points in a statement condemning the chalkings Wednesday night, in which he also pointed out that the school has a bias response team to which such complaints can be directed, and that several students had in fact taken advantage of that resource rather than calling the police.
“Attacks directed toward any member or group within the University of Michigan community, based on a belief or characteristic, are inconsistent with our values of respect, civility and equality,” he said in the statement. “We all understand that where speech is free it will sometimes wound. But our message is this: We are fully committed to fostering an environment that is welcoming and inclusive of everyone. Tonight we are reminded there is much work yet to be done.”
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