By Rishon Seaborn
Campus was decorated with passionate political chalkings all over Salisbury University last Tuesday on Nov. 1.
The present election has inspired students to become outwardly comfortable with expressing their beliefs and support of political candidates.
On Nov. 1 there were chalked endorsements for the presidential candidate Donald Trump. Multiple sayings such as “Trump/ Pence,” “#Buildthewall” and “#Hillaryforprision” were written throughout various parts of campus.
One particular chalking that stood out the most to students was a chalking written next to the Sammy the Sea Gull statue in the Henson angle that read “Sammy votes Republican.”
There was a Twitter account under the name Old Row that encouraged this chalking event across many college campuses nationwide. The hashtag #TheChalkening was associated with this increased movement as other college students posted photos of their chalkings.
Throughout the day there was an unofficial gathering of students who took some initiative into their own hands. They decided to express their own opinions by washing away the sayings that were taken in offense.
Social media was filled with an uproar as students posted various comments on the offense that they felt from the recent events.
Sometime throughout the day an email was sent out to the student body from the Vice President of Student Affairs Dane Foust.
The email emphasized that SU has not taken a political stance within this election and that although as a university they are not governing freedom of speech, everyone should be mindful of expressing one’s opinion in an offensive or threatening manner.
It was also stated that the university will only be partaking in the washing away of a chalking if it is conducted inappropriately or if it is in violation of the chalking policy. The email concluded with a link that led to the policy.
In response to the pro-Trump chalking, students were greeted with new chalking Wednesday morning. A few read “Love Trumps Hate,” “Stronger Together” and “Sammy represents us all.”
The high emotions expressed throughout the week led to support of specific political points being prominently put on display as well as anger in response to doing so.
Maryland Federation of College Republicans Chairman Patty Miller stated that the original action of chalking on campus was not affiliated with the SU College Republicans.
“The people who wrote this are obviously conservatives or Trump supporters so in a sense it does involve us but it wasn’t necessarily anything that [SU College Republicans] organized or did.” Miller said. “We were just sucked into it because people just automatically assumed that the Trump people were us.”
Miller explained the recent hypocrisy of supporting freedom of speech only if it agrees with one’s opinion.
“It’s difficult not to offend anyone but at the same time it is a representation of freedom of speech for all aspects,” Miller said. “I believe in freedom of speech even if I don’t agree with a specific opinion, so then the issue is when people protest a certain opinion that they aren’t supporting freedom of speech.”
SU College Republicans member Mary Foley shared her initial reaction.
“At first I was curious to who did this and why they did this but when I saw the other students erasing it I was a little bit concerned,” Foley said. “While I don’t agree with either chalkings, I still agree with their right to say that.”
Foley shared that she sent an email to Student Affairs to ask what their official stance is on the erasing of the chalking. She is awaiting a reply from them.
“According to the policy, it isn’t acceptable to erase another student’s chalking, so I was wondering why nothing was done about it,” Foley said. “In addition, I’m extremely curious as to why there wasn’t anything done about the new [Pro-Hillary] chalking—no one went out to erase that.”
Foley pointed out the discrepancy between the reactions of how each chalking was perceived. “I think both things were inappropriate and unproductive but I support the right to say it,” Foley said.
SU College Democrats Co-President Lindsey Hall explained the depth of her understanding of the matter.
“I wasn’t originally upset about the chalking because I thought it was just a Vote Trump 2016, I didn’t learn about the other offensive sayings until later,” Hall said. “If you want that person as your presidential candidate then I am for it, I’m not going to oppress anyone’s voice just because of their political opinions.”
Hall explained that some of the sayings that were chalked clearly targeted specific audiences.
“When I went to campus and saw the backlash from the campus community, it definitely was pretty shocking,” Hall said. “I think it was distasteful for people to go around saying things like “build a wall” because obviously that’s offensive to certain people. It just shouldn’t be written.”
The chalking near Sammy became a hot button topic for most students. “The one that really bothered me was Sammy is a republican—it isn’t really fair,” Hall said.
SU College Democrats Co-President Ellie Brookbank shared the views of the club. “We as a club acknowledged that the pro-Trump chalkings happened and I just felt like we needed a response to this,” Brookbank said. “As an executive board we talked about it and we all agreed that we didn’t want to keep the hate going, but we wanted to spread a positive message to show the campus that not everyone agrees with this divisive language.”
She was surprised that there was already a shared mentality for unity that came out as result of these events. “Our response wasn’t so much to show that there’s a Hillary presence on campus but rather to focus on a positive message— the focus was really on unity,” Brookbank said. “The cool part about it was that by the time we went out, there were already a few other positive messages written.”
SU senior Duke Causey shared his belief of the matter. “These chalk sayings shouldn’t suggest any political affiliation for the university as a whole. While I respect the right to support, there isn’t need for slander,” Causey said. “Especially at a public university. The support should be positive.”