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Trump Scare spreads from Emory to University of Kansas as new chalkings appear on campus

‘Trump 2016’ is OK under our policy … or is it?

Riding the tails of a similar controversy at Emory University, University of Kansas students are expressing outrage over pro-Donald Trump messages written in chalk that appeared around campus this week.

Like Emory, the KU administration promised to investigate the matter as a content-neutral violation of its strict chalking policy.

But unlike Emory, KU’s first reaction to the chalkings came on Twitter – provoking a barrage of angry tweets from students who claimed it was being evasive and ignoring the perceived racism in the Trump chalkings.

The university also might have confused students about what its chalking policy actually allows them to do, particularly with regard to campaign slogans.

‘Why does admin CONSTANTLY play down student concerns?’

Student Shegufta Huma was apparently the first person to publicize the chalkings, tweeting photos of them to the university’s official Twitter account.


As vice president of the University Senate and a member of the Student Executive Committee, Huma joined a vote of no confidence – and threats of impeachment – against KU’s white student leaders because they did not “stand in solidarity with their black peers,” the Lawrence Journal-World reported in November.

RELATED: Emory University snowflakes ‘in pain’ after pro-Trump graffiti appears on campus

Huma tweeted at the university Tuesday: “Is this the post-racial paradise folks pretend exists?”

Unlike Emory President James Wagner’s lengthy email to the community after meeting with 40–50 protesters, promising to make “immediate refinements” to its bias incident reporting system, unknown KU staff responded directly to Huma just two hours later and questioned her assumption that the chalking reflected KU sentiment.

Anti-Trump users quickly seized on the school’s off-the-cuff response as tone-deaf to their concerns that someone in the campus area supports the Republican frontrunner in the presidential campaign.



When the KU Twitter account explained the school was investigating the chalking as a possible violation of its rules against “unapproved chalking,” it told another Twitter user that “Trump 2016” would have been approved if a student had requested permission in advance.

That’s not clear from the policy, however.

Chalking allowed ‘in order to publicize events’

While KU policy dictates that “any person who is not a member of the University community” could face criminal charges for chalking on campus, and requires advance permission for “any other individual or group” on campus wishing to chalk, it also explicitly limits chalking by “University units and student and campus organizations that are registered with the Student Involvement and Leadership Center.”

Such organizations are only allowed to chalk “in order to publicize events they are sponsoring or to promote student participation in University events.”

RELATED: Emory University president grovels before anti-Trump protesters

Under the guidelines, pro-Trump messages would seemingly only be allowed if they related to an event that the group was sponsoring or promoting, which does not appear to be the case with any of the KU Trump chalkings.

Although vastly outnumbered by the anti-Trump crowd, the chalkers had defenders on Twitter as well.

Criticism of the chalking went beyond the message’s perceived racial undertones.

Some wanted the university to speak out against support for Trump in and of itself, while one student called for others to pitch in and “sanitize” the messages.


Ironically, the same student seemed to celebrate KU campus chalking in favor of the racial protest group Concerned Student 1950 at the University of Missouri during its rise to prominence in November.


One of those angry at the university’s response was Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk, the racial protest group known for issuing 15 demands to the university in November.

RELATED: Emory president does his own chalking: ‘EMORY STANDS FOR FREE EXPRESSION!’

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About the Author
Mark Schierbecker -- University of Missouri