Had Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for the White House somehow infiltrated the ranks of Emory's student activists and blackmailed the university’s President James W. Wagner, it could scarcely have orchestrated a spectacle more helpful to Trump’s prospects, or damaging to the values that protect vulnerable groups, than what they accomplished on their own this week. After someone wrote “Trump 2016” in colored chalk around campus, several dozen student demonstrators objected that the banal campaign message scared, upset, or offended them, and administrators responded by going Orwellian.
The Emory Wheel reports that Wagner will review footage from campus security cameras to uncover who made the chalkings. “He added that if they’re students, they will go through the conduct violation process,” the newspaper stated, “while if they are from outside of the University, trespassing charges will be pressed.” Ponder the precedent. An academic authority figure will use surveillance to track down and punish someone for urging support for a political candidate. If possible, he will marshal criminal law to do so. As Jesse Singal wrote at New York, that is “extremely creepy, and a sign that something has gone seriously wrong.”
Can you imagine how campus progressives would have reacted if a university president threatened to have someone punished or charged with trespassing for chalking “Obama 2012” or “Bernie 2016” on campus sidewalks? But these students see no need for viewpoint-neutral standards about politicking in presidential elections.