College Kids Aren’t the Only Ones Demanding ‘Safe Spaces’
Donald Trump got creamed in the Wisconsin primary last night, but he’s still finding ways to dominate the news. His latest trick has been to transform himself into the modern-day bogey man or El Coco, the monster who comes in the night for your kids. Well, your college-age kids.
Trump’s name is at the center of a rash of bizarre stories on campuses across America, the most recent being the universities of Kansas and Michigan-Ann Arbor. Students have been waking up to find “Trump ’16” messages in chalk scrawled on sidewalks, sometimes alongside other messages (like “Build the Wall” or “Stop Islam”).
At each stop, students have complained to administrators that Trump’s very name makes them feel unsafe. In Michigan, students actually called the police. Just today at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a member of student government reportedly has been asked to resign for a pro-Trump chalking. To be fair, the chalking in question did include a drawing of the notorious red “Make America Great Again” hat, making it especially horrifying.
The effect of all of this will probably be to make Donald Trump the official face of the “safe space” controversy, a distinction he’ll of course wear as a badge of honor. He may even push to have the trigger warning renamed the Trump warning.
The chalking story began at Emory University in Georgia. A group of students there reportedly went berserk after some anonymous person scrawled “Trump ’16” on a sidewalk in the wee hours of March 21st.
A student coalition quickly coalesced in protest, and soon confronted university President James Wagner. A joint letter was then composed by protesting groups, explaining that the chalk messages had created “an environment in which many students no longer feel safe and welcome.”
Reporters hot on the scent of lively copy (any “safe space” story is a guaranteed hit-generator) immediately descended on the campus, where they extracted quotes from students like, “I legitimately feared for my life,” “Some of us expected shootings,” and “We are in pain.”
These stories have the same arc every time. First there’s the core news report, an often sarcastically told horror story of kids terrorized by chalk (or chat-room messages, or mascot costumes, or whatever) while living lives of enviable, sexually fulfilling leisure on gorgeous campuses.
Next comes the avalanche of op-ed pieces ridiculing the students. The response is usually brutal on both ends of the spectrum. When the Emory story spread to Kansas, Town Hall ran with the following headline: “Trump Chalkings Appear at University of Kansas: Delicate Snowflakes Complain.”
Bill Maher’s take was a big laugh line in-studio in L.A. “I so badly want to drop-kick these kids into a place where there is actual pain and suffering,” he quipped.
Larry Wilmore’s The Nightly Show also did an extended routine about the Emory incident. Wilmore was careful to note that some campus controversies are more genuinely disturbing, like the like the time someone scrawled “No N—-rs” in a Connecticut College bathroom (Wilmore joked this was the original title for Friends). But he chuckled about Emory students panicking over a campaign slogan, interviewing mock students on location.