A pro-Donald Trump message was written in chalk in front of a Latino organization at the University of California, San Diego last Friday, drawing the ire of Latinos who say the message is a direct attack against Mexicans on campus. And, in fact, the message appears to be part of a larger social media campaign on campuses across the country.
The UCSD chalk message, written on April 8, referred to the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump and his controversial positions on immigration. "Trump 2016," the message read. "Build the wall, deport them all!" and "Mexico will pay!"
Images of the message were posted on Facebook on Saturday afternoon by the UCSD College Democrats. The message itself has been removed and the college released a statement on Monday condemning the graffiti written outside of the Raza Resource Centro.
"This graffiti runs counter to our campus values of equity and inclusion," the statement from UCSD administrators read. "We value diversity and respect for all cultures."
The UCSD College Democrats blasted the message as "violently racist" and "xenophobic." The organization said it is one of many pieces of graffiti written on campus Friday night, allegedly by "hooded male adults."
The messages were written the night before Triton Day, in which UCSD welcomes newly-admitted students and their families to campus. “The most disturbing part of the incident was that xenophobic statements were targeted directly at community centers on campus, and that the chalking was done right before Triton Day began,” UCSD College Democrats president Daniel Firoozi said in a statement to Fox News Latino.
He added, “We find it deeply unsettling that any Triton would take an action that could so directly diminish the numbers of students of color choosing to enroll at our university.”
The incident is at least the ninth such chalking at different universities throughout campuses. They usually include messages praising Trump’s immigration policy, which calls for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and the mass deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants.
The incidents are part of a movement called the #thechalkening, a social media hashtag that was started in the last few weeks to encourage college students around the country who support the GOP front-runner to let their feelings be known. The idea apparently is the brainchild of Trump’s social media director, Dan Scavino.
Scavino first tweeted about “The Chalkening” on April 1 in response to protests from students at Emory University in Atlanta who felt “attacked” by “pro-Trump” messages written in chalk all over campus.
— Dan Scavino (@DanScavino) April 1, 2016
Since then the Trump organization – Students4Trump picked up the effort and the website Old Row, a site aimed at fraternity brothers in Southern schools, pushed #thechalkening to its current figure of nearly 157,000 fans on Twitter – offering a $100 gift card to the best chalk message.
The incident at UCSD refocuses attention on the debate over freedom of speech on college campuses and whether universities are stifling conservative points of view. Trump’s rhetoric has alienated many students on college campuses across the country who view the mere mention of his name as a provocation and an affront to their ethnicity – particularly Latino and Muslim students.
According to the Los Angeles Times, UCSD condemned the chalk messages because they violate its “principles of community” which “uphold each individual’s right to dignity, justice and respect.”
The nine principles also includes the following: “We affirm the right to freedom of expression at UC San Diego. We promote open expression of our individuality and our diversity within the bounds of courtesy, sensitivity, confidentiality, and respect.”
On March 26 a Mexican-American student at Scripps College in California woke up to see the phrase #trump2016 scrawled on her. The student reported the incident because she felt it was a derogatory reference to her ethnicity.
On April 5 at the University of Illinois, a chalk message that included the phrases, “They have to go back #Trump,” “Build the Wall” and “Trump Deportation Force” were written near the Latino/Latina studies building.
And on April 9, a member of the University of Tennessee’s student government was asked to resign after she chalked “Trump 2016.”
— Students For Trump (@TrumpStudents) April 4, 2016
Students for Trump, a student-led organization not officially related to the Trump campaign, has promoted #thechalkening. The group has directors in 42 states. The state director for California, Jake Lopez, told the L.A. Times that he believes “there is a movement to silenece differing views ... That's not what America is about."
He added, "Trump, he's single-handedly bringing back freedom of speech. He's enabled students to voice whatever we believe in a thoughtful way."
Lopez argues that the increasingly common practice on campus of creating "safe spaces" where students can go is really about sheltering them from ideas with which they disagree.