You have to wonder whether Trump supporters at Emory University feel “safe” now that their political preference is considered hate speech.
On Monday morning, students at Emory woke up to find “Trump 2016” scrawled in chalk across their campus. Outraged, a group of 40 to 50 students barged into the administration building while chanting “We are in pain!” After meeting with the protestors, a sympathetic Emory president Jim Wagner sent an email to students and faculty, saying “The students with whom I spoke heard a message, not about political process or candidate choice, but instead about values regarding diversity and respect that clash with Emory’s own.”
At Wagner’s request, Emory’s Freedom of Expression Committee is meeting to discuss whether the very name “Trump” is so associated with hatred, racism, and xenophobia that writing it in chalk should count as a threat to public safety, as some students believe. In the meantime, Wagner has vowed to have security footage reviewed in order to identify and punish those who have written the name of he-who-must-not-be-named.
Even if you don’t like Trump, you have to wonder whether Emory is making wise decisions here. Many of Trumps’ supporters like him precisely because he doesn’t stand for “microaggressions” or political correctness. By trying to ban his name, Emory is probably creating more Trump supporters than they’re silencing. Indeed, this incident has already created sympathy for Trump even among some liberals, who find Emory’s response embarrassing.
So why do some students continue to respond to Trump by seeking censorship? Maybe it’s because they don’t feel ready to take care of their own problems. In an important way, expecting your university to shield you from abrasive political figures is like expecting your Mom to protect you from bullies. As a child, that’s a fine expectation—but college isn’t a place to be a child. It’s a place to become an adult. So as a college student myself, it seems to me that the best thing Emory can do for these students is not to stunt their growth by trying to shield them, but to help them mature by letting them hear things they don’t like.