#TheChalkening Comes To Georgia Southern

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Devin Conway

Students have recently participated in ‘The Chalkening’ movement, with messages written across campus relating to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The messages have been diverse in their criticism and support of particular candidates. The messages included: ‘Trump 2016’, ‘Hillary For Prison 2016’, ‘#NeverTrump’, ‘Trump For Life’ and ‘Ted Cruz Is The Zodiac Killer’, among many others.

The movement has sparked a debate about freedom of speech across campus.

“If liberty in a free society means anything at all, my right to free speech and expression supersedes your ‘right’ to dislike what I have to say. Freedom of speech is not mentioned in the first amendment by coincidence,” Gil Hope, sophomore psychology major, said.

The messages, the majority of which were written on the sidewalk across from Lakeside Dining Commons, prompted the university to send out via e-mail a reminder of the campus chalk policy.

‘The Chalkening’ movement origins

The movement spread after students at Emory University were greeted by hundreds of conservative political messages written in chalk all across their campus.

The messages, none of which contained vulgar or obscene speech, sparked protests led by chants of ‘You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!’

The extent of the outcry led to the university’s president, Jim Wagner, to put out a statement to the student body.

“After meeting with our students, I cannot dismiss their expression of feelings and concern as motivated only by political preference or over-sensitivity,” Wagner said in the statement.

Students at Emory University were offered counseling services for their grievances, and student organizations that wanted to respond to the incidents were offered emergency funds by the Student Government Association at Emory.

This story quickly caught national attention, and students at dozens of colleges including Ohio State, Louisville, University of Kentucky, Mississippi State, Iowa State, LSU, Georgetown, N.C. State, Tennessee and even Georgia Southern took this national story as an opportunity to express their own opinions in chalk across each of their own respective campuses.

The Chalkening at GS

There a few different movements at Georgia Southern that look to spread ideas via chalk, including Chalk the Block, in which a group of like-minded students have committed to sharing motivational and encouraging messages throughout campus.

The founder of the Chalk the Block movement feels that the recent political movement known as ‘The Chalkening’ sends the wrong message.

“I think it’s ineffective, rudimentary and immature. You can’t articulate a political statement and appropriately represent the complex issues such as political candidates’ validity or their ideologies via this type of medium. You’re not convincing anybody of anything – you’re just going to polarize them,” Andrew Ballard, sophomore Communications Studies major, said.

Georgia Southern’s Young Americans For Liberty chapter organized a chalking event last month that was open to the student body in response to the situation that unraveled at Emory University.

Christian Hart, sophomore IT major and president of Young Americans For Liberty, said, “I definitely think free speech is being threatened by political correctness. It’s a form of cultural totalitarianism. The left is succeeding in convincing the populace that diversity in ideas is evil. The modern progressive movement is on a path to limit all speech that they deem unacceptable.”

Photo courtesy of Devin Conway.