The fine (chalk) line between freedom of speech and vandalizing campus
Story by Taylor Inman, Staff writer
Presidential candidate Donald Trump has hit home for some students at Murray State, as several chalkings supporting Trump popped up on sidewalks and even on the side of Wells Hall on Friday. The writings went from being free speech to vandalism, and continue to be found all over campus, like in front of Waterfield Library and by the Quad.
The chalkings, some including profanity, stretch from in front of the Business Building to in front of the Carr Health Building and have been causing a stir on social media platforms like Yik Yak. The question has been brought up: how does campus deal with vandalism and letting students write whatever they want on the sidewalk?
Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said this is something that is hard to control.
“You have to have permission to keep it up,” Robertson said. “You have to contact Facilities Management and the student life office ahead of time.”
But the sidewalk chalkings went to another level when one was found on the side of Wells Hall. This took the issue from being about one’s first amendment rights to being vandalism.
Websites like “Total Frat Move” have posts in forums encouraging students involved in Greek life to make their support for Trump known. Several pictures have been posted from colleges across the country, such as Emroy University in Atlanta.
The chalkings have been causing agitation there, as well. Fox News reported in an article that the “Trump 2016” drawings found on Emroy University’s campus made students feel unsafe.
The chalkings have been up long enough to get students’ attention on Friday alone. There were also many scheduled tours for incoming freshmen going on throughout Friday afternoon.
The chalkings provoked anti-Trump supporters to add words or completely write over the chalkings, like putting a red line through a “Trump 2016” chalking.
Cheyenne Miller, freshman from Louisville, Kentucky, wrote the word “sucks” underneath Trump’s name on one of the chalkings and changed “Trump 2016, Make America Great Again” to “2016, Make America Hate Again.”
Miller said she thinks that these writings could reflect badly on the university.
“I think that supporting Trump says something bad about Murray State,” Miller said. “Trump is so close-minded and promotes so many things that I think Murray State goes against, like racism, sexism and any ‘ism’ you can think of.”
The free speech debate has been going on across college campuses all over America in recent years. The talk takes on many different forms, like the implementation of “Free Speech Zones,” which have been used at many campuses, including Murray State. But the university can’t fully control what students want to say, whether it’s posted on Twitter or the sidewalk behind Pogue Library.
Robertson believes that it doesn’t reflect directly on Murray State.
“It’s pretty common on most college campuses; it’s not a new thing,” Robertson said. “It doesn’t necessarily reflect what the university stands for, though it needs to be done tastefully. It’s like hanging a poster up; the poster doesn’t directly reflect on the university.”
There have been some who argued the opposite. But it’s clear that the mention of Trump’s name has once again divided many people.
Miller said she doesn’t want people thinking that Murray State supports the candidate.
“I don’t know if adding to it made it worse,” Miller said. “But I wouldn’t want people coming to campus and thinking that we support Trump.”
The person(s) behind the chalkings have not been identified, but there have been no more reports of any other chalkings supporting Trump. However, there are still traces of the ones that were found on Friday morning.