Anti-Immigrant Chalk Messages Cause Concern On Campus

April 07, 2016

Brian Bauer/Daily Illini

Administrators are calling for mutual support while divisive issues are discussed on the University of Illinois Urbana campus. Their message comes after chalk messages supporting presidential candidate Donald Trump and attacking undocumented immigrants showed up on sidewalks on campus this week, including some outside the building housing the Department of Latina/Latino Studies.

The News-Gazette and the Daily Illini noted the chalk messages, including "Build The Wall," “They have to go back #trump” and “Trump Deportation Force.” The messages were found Tuesday. And the next day, interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson, and other administrators addressed the issue in a mass email.

The statement says the university values “respectful discourse while also recognizing that offensive speech is protected by the First Amendment.” It said campus policies ensure everyone’s physical safety and address incidences of discrimination, while protecting the ability to gather safely and express opinions.

In addition to Wilson, the mass email was also signed by Interim Provost Edward Feser and Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs Renee Romano.

The Department of Latina/Latino Studies published a statement on its Facebook page, saying it was "deeply troubled" by the chalk messages.

"We certainly support the right of people to voice their preference for particular political candidates," the Department stated. "But when this support is expressed in ways that taunt a particular racial/ethnic group, we find it unacceptable."

The Department condemned the messages as only meant "to psychologically wound, breed hostility, and create an atmosphere of insecurity for Latina/os on campus."

The Latina/Latino Studies Department called on the campus community to take a stand against efforts to “intimidate and demean Latina/os."

(This article was expanded on 4/7/16 at 2:30 PM).

Story source: WILL