Chalkings violate ‘core values’ and ‘campus culture,’ university says
The University of Alabama launched an investigation into chalked messages supportive of Kanye West.
The public university’s investigation came after two non-student activists, Dalton Clodfelter and Tyler Russell, wrote “#Yeisright” and “America First” in chalk on campus on Jan. 27. The rapper now goes by the name “Ye” and is running for president in 2024.
The College Fix could not locate contact information for Russell and Clodfelter. A message to someone involved in West’s presidential efforts and who would likely know the pair was not returned.
“As soon as we were notified of the chalkings we began removing them, initiated an investigation and organized resources for those impacted and concerned,” a tweet from the official university Twitter account said.
The University was notified this morning about anonymous chalkings with concerning language targeting our Jewish community. We condemn these chalkings, which violate our Capstone Creed, our campus culture and our core values.
— The Univ. of Alabama (@UofAlabama) January 26, 2023
“The University was notified this morning about anonymous chalkings with concerning language targeting our Jewish community,” the university wrote. “We condemn these chalkings, which violate our Capstone Creed, our campus culture and our core values.”
The Fix contacted Deidre Stalnaker, the school’s communications director, on Feb. 8 to ask for information on the investigation and if the university planned to respond to a letter sent by a free speech advocacy group, but did not receive a response.
The Fix contacted other communications department members and the president’s office to ask for further information in the past week and a half but did not receive any responses.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, which sent a letter to University of Alabama raising concerns about the free speech implications of the investigation, told The Fix that the investigation could have a “chilling effect” on speech.
Sabrina Conza told The Fix via email that the university “has almost certainly caused a chilling effect among students whose views differ from the majority of students on campus” by saying the messages violated “the university’s core values.”
“Instead, UA could have denounced the messages with which the university disagrees and explained that the messages would be removed for violating its chalking policies,” Conza told The Fix.
Additional photos are coming in to StopAntisemitism containing the same graffiti as well as ‘America First’ signature@UofAlabama is the next target of Dalton Clodfelter and crew (the same group that caused havoc at @FloridaAtlantic last week@UA_Safety @UAStudents @bamahillel pic.twitter.com/7JtGA3SZTx
— StopAntisemitism (@StopAntisemites) January 26, 2023
FIRE wrote that the officials’ statements about “content” were “problematic.”
While UA has the right to remove the messages for violating its Grounds Use Policies relating to chalking, UA did not invoke that policy when announcing its investigation,” the letter stated. “Instead, administrators said the content of the messages was problematic.”
“If UA can investigate chalking that ‘#YeIsRight’ could it investigate a student for tweeting the same message or saying it in class?” the free speech group asked. It asked UA “to confirm to students that it cannot and will not investigate or punish similar subjectively offensive speech in the future.”
“Again, UA may criticize views the university disagrees with,” the group wrote. However, “a public institution…cannot use state power to censor controversial views.”
IMAGE: Stop Antisemitism/Twitter