The Spectator

Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus

Several UW-Eau Claire students and faculty deemed campus unsafe while rally was on campus, especially for students of color

As+people+lined+outside+Zorn+Arena+waiting+to+get+into+the+Donald+Trump+rally+on+Tuesday+UW-Eau+Claire+students%2C+faculty%2C+staff+and+community+members+protested+or+stood+in+solidarity+outside+Hibbard+Humanities+Hall.+Some+professors+cancelled+their+afternoon+classes+in+Hibbard+so+students+wouldn%27t+have+to+walk+through+the+lines+that+stretched+from+Garfield+Avenue+back+along+Putnam+Drive+behind+the+Nursing+Building.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus

As people lined outside Zorn Arena waiting to get into the Donald Trump rally on Tuesday UW-Eau Claire students, faculty, staff and community members protested or stood in solidarity outside Hibbard Humanities Hall. Some professors cancelled their afternoon classes in Hibbard so students wouldn't have to walk through the lines that stretched from Garfield Avenue back along Putnam Drive behind the Nursing Building.

As people lined outside Zorn Arena waiting to get into the Donald Trump rally on Tuesday UW-Eau Claire students, faculty, staff and community members protested or stood in solidarity outside Hibbard Humanities Hall. Some professors cancelled their afternoon classes in Hibbard so students wouldn't have to walk through the lines that stretched from Garfield Avenue back along Putnam Drive behind the Nursing Building.

Photo by Amanda Thao

As people lined outside Zorn Arena waiting to get into the Donald Trump rally on Tuesday UW-Eau Claire students, faculty, staff and community members protested or stood in solidarity outside Hibbard Humanities Hall. Some professors cancelled their afternoon classes in Hibbard so students wouldn't have to walk through the lines that stretched from Garfield Avenue back along Putnam Drive behind the Nursing Building.

Photo by Amanda Thao

Photo by Amanda Thao

As people lined outside Zorn Arena waiting to get into the Donald Trump rally on Tuesday UW-Eau Claire students, faculty, staff and community members protested or stood in solidarity outside Hibbard Humanities Hall. Some professors cancelled their afternoon classes in Hibbard so students wouldn't have to walk through the lines that stretched from Garfield Avenue back along Putnam Drive behind the Nursing Building.

Story by Andee Erickson, Former Spectator

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






While classes were in session Tuesday thousands of rally-goers from various communities lined the campus sidewalk along Garfield Avenue waiting for Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump’s rally in Zorn Arena.

UW-Eau Claire students have been sharing their experiences of being verbally assaulted on Tuesday from those attending the rally. Students sharing these instances of receiving hate speech are most often people of color.

Hate speech is protected under the First Amendment as freedom of speech and defined as: speech that offends, threatens or insults groups based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or other traits.

Senior organizational communication student Kab Vwj said she was walking near campus when a truck drove past her with a sign asking people to vote for Trump and thank military members for their service. Vwj, a service member, was then spat at from the vehicle after making eye contact with someone inside.

There’s an assumption that only white heterosexual men are in the military, Vwj said. It was an insult she said she received for being a woman and a person of color.

“I think a lot of people are saying ‘Hey these Trump supporters are actually really nice,’” she said. “But if you think about it, the amount of people walking by, it’s not just verbal assaults, it’s the physical impeding of space and the safety of people in general.”

While on her way home from class senior biology student Taylor Isberner said she was walking past the line for the rally when she overheard a group of people making prejudiced comments so she quietly shook her head, while making eye-contact with the speaker.

She said it was then the person uttered, “It’s a shame queers like her will distort the political system.”

Isberner said she understands the campus was expected to allow the rally to occur on campus as a public university, but thinks student safety should have been a greater concern given the nature these rallies tend to have.

“With all the violence and hatred that has been surrounding the Trump rallies all summer there should have definitely been more thought put into it and more precautionary actions rather than just allowing it,” Isberner said.

Inter-Tribal Student Council (ITSC) President Savannah Rigert also said the campus should have done more to ensure student safety such as providing escorts to students who felt unsafe while walking around campus or telling them not to feel obliged to attend class.

Instead she took matters into her own hands. At a meeting with ITSC, which primarily consists of Native students, she said she encouraged students not to attend the protests outside the rally. She also offered to provide rides between upper and lower campus for students who didn’t feel safe walking past the lines.

“We talked about how it could be dangerous for them, with things being said and we didn’t know if anyone was going to be physical or not,” said Rigert, double majoring in American Indian Studies and social work.

Chancellor James C. Schmidt said he has asked for an evaluation to begin on how the university handled the event, so they can know where they can improve for next time.

“It was a very difficult day,” Schmidt said. “That is usually where there’s personal growth. I know that people were hurt by what was said and I feel terrible about that. It’s not my hope. I know there are people who felt unsafe and we are trying to look for different ways we can do it.”

However, if they denied the request for the Trump campaign to rent the arena, the university could have faced a large lawsuit, he said. The university doesn’t endorse any politics, he said, if it rents to one political speech it has to rent to any.

Under the Supreme Court hate actions are illegal and hate words are not, Schmidt said, and as chancellor he’s required to apply and promote the laws.

“I wish all of these conversations could happen in a civil manner, but from a legal perspective I can’t limit people’s’ free speech.” Schmidt said. “I think that’s a terribly dangerous thing to do.”

For a university to do its job it needs to have other points of view on campus and listening to others allows students to sharpen their arguments, he said. In an email to all faculty, students and staff on Tuesday Schmidt wrote “There is no idea too controversial to be discussed on our campus.”

Anthropology assistant professor Ari Anand said he disagrees. Speech that embodies ideas that certain people are subhuman disables people from participating in the conversation and doesn’t belong on campus, he said.

“If I’m encountering a form of speech that essentially tells me I’m subhuman, I’m not even an equal interactor in the debate,” Anand said. “There’s no starting point for conversation there.”

Speech needs to be thought of as something much larger than just speech, he said. If it’s disabling people, it’s a form of violence and to package that into ‘freedom of speech’ is problematic.

Anand was supposed to teach a class from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Tuesday in Hibbard Humanities Hall across from where people were waiting for the rally. But when students reached out to him the night before saying they would feel unsafe getting there he brought the concerns to higher administration and received permission from the Dean of Arts and Sciences to cancel class.

“I’m not satisfied by handling it and saying ‘Well if you feel afraid don’t come’ because then the class is only available to people who are not afraid,” he said.

Communication and journalism assistant professor Kristine Knutson also cancelled her 3:30 p.m. class because of student concerns, asking her students to study from home. Not only did she cancel to keep students physically safe, but the parking and congestion made it difficult for those who drive to class to access campus.

As a state school Knutson said the university ought to comply with requests from politicians to use the space, especially since Zorn Arena is the largest venue. However, the speech that’s been occurring leaves her considering what qualifies as free speech.

“The ability of free speech doesn’t always make us feel safe,” Knutson said.

There’s a boundary between what’s uncomfortable and what’s unsafe, she said, and the community can help build a space where people are safe.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
15 Comments

15 Responses to “Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus”

  1. Emily Stage on November 3rd, 2016 12:33 pm

    I am at student at UWEC and I had class in Hibbard Hall from 4-645pm. My class ironically is titled Women and Violence. It took me 45 minutes to find a parking spot off campus and then walk the 12 blocks to my class. As a women that has been personally offended by the hate speech that seems to be the foundation for the Trump campaign, I was incredibly uncomfortable on a campus that is supposed to provide a safe learning environment for me and all of its students. The threat violence was overwhelming, and the tension I felt even during class impeded my ability to learn. Shame on this university for shielding its liberal idea of free speech and not shielding it’s students from violence.

  2. Rog C on November 4th, 2016 2:48 pm

    Sorry you had to be inconvenienced the day of the rally. I want to assure you that hate is not “the foundation for the Trump campaign “. If you only go by the caricatures that the media presents to you, then you’re missing the message of this campaign.

  3. John on November 5th, 2016 4:17 pm

    Welcome to the real world Emily. There’s going to be a lot of obstacles you have to face in the coming years. You think not finding a parking space upsets you? A longer walk? You’re upset by some hate speech? Consider what happened Tuesday a great learning experience. Most students in this area never get to experience that kind of political environment.

  4. Julio Weigend on November 3rd, 2016 2:13 pm

    This is poor journalism full of half-truths. The protesters were swearing and yelling slurs as much as the rally-goers were. The behavior on both sides was disgusting. The article’s title implies that only Trump supporters were the aggressors, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

    I don’t expect my comment to be approved by the moderators–it speaks too much truth for people’s comfort.

    Is Andee Erickson an importation journalist, or an agenda-driven activist? She can’t be both, not when she’s claiming to report facts.

  5. Sou on November 4th, 2016 12:34 am

    Sure the protestors and the rally goers may have had their confrontations and there is no excuse for that, but what about the racial slurs thrown at students who were minding their own business or just heading to class? Are you implying that if racial slurs from trump supporters were thrown at non-protestors they should just ignore it and continue on their way like nothing happened? If I put you in a place where people are verbally assaulting you when you’re minding your own business would you feel safe walking around? To have such a situation occur while the university pretends nothing’s happening is a bit irresponsible on their part.

  6. Julio Weigend on November 8th, 2016 8:32 am

    I understand and agree with most of what you’re saying, but the article suggests–if not directly, then by willful omission–that it was all a one-sided affair, which is just not true. I don’t support Trump, but the lack of neutrality in modern journalism is something that upsets me greatly.

  7. James on November 4th, 2016 1:48 am

    I for one was in line for 3+ hours and had several protesters walk by, never once was anyone verbally assaulted. In fact people walked through a driveway the whole time in line and never looked scared at all.

    I truly believe protesters have everything to do with this. Obviously everyone has the right to protest, but expect people to stand for their candidate. Half the people I talked to out there had no idea why they wereally there. This is the 3rd rally I have been too and not one act of violence.

  8. Ray R on November 4th, 2016 9:37 am

    ‘Racist’ and ‘bigot’ aren’t slurs. I know that’s sometimes confusing for conservatives

  9. Julio Weigend on November 4th, 2016 10:50 am

    I meant to write “impartial,” not importation. I’m not even sure how that happened. Anyway, I am proud of The Spectator for publishing my comment. I really didn’t think they would.

  10. TJ on November 4th, 2016 11:05 am

    That is true. I was one of the students at the protest rally. As a protestor, I was really disappointed in myself for not being able to control my emotions. You are right, this article implies that Trump supporters were the aggressors when in reality it was both sides.

    This article as tells us the story of how students were treated on Tuesday due to the Trump rally. One of the interviewees is a friend of mine and I believe that she had no right to be treated that way,

  11. A. R. on November 5th, 2016 10:13 pm

    You may want to read the second paragraph of this article one more time… They don’t deserve the chance to tell their story? That’s a weird thing to say…

  12. Trompe L'oeil on November 4th, 2016 3:12 am

    Compared to the sheer shocking level of violence that Trump supporters have and are currently suffering at the hands of those so offended, this all seems pretty trivial.

    Feel free to be offended, and feel free to offend back. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, regardless of how PC it is. They are not however, justified in being violent.

  13. Rog C on November 4th, 2016 2:34 pm

    I can see the slant in this article. One-sided and full of half truths. Making it seem as though the “violence” at Trump rallies was caused by Trump and his supporters. Maybe the author of this article hasn’t seen the reports of Clinton operatives paying people to purposely incite violence and protest at Trump rallies. Danger to students? I have a feeling that this slanted article is missing too many facts to be taken seriously.

  14. Don R on November 8th, 2016 1:33 pm

    I was also attending the trump rally and was in a line for 3 hours. I walked past the dorms where the students had posted signs in the window using foul language – such as the 4 letter word that starts with F…….. Another student came by on a skateboard holding a carved pumpkin over his head. This pumpkin said “F__ __ __ TRUMP”. He was also yelling this at the Trump rally attendees.
    I did not see any attendees abuse the students or protesters who were in my opinion abusing the attendees of the rally in lieu of protesting trump. If there were some encounters the “protestors” were certainly giving it back.

    On my way out of the rally i was worried I would be assaulted by the protestors and was also scared……… so what does that say??????

  15. Don R on November 8th, 2016 1:35 pm

    And by the way – maybe this might be more aptly titled “STUDENTS AND RALLY ATTENDEES VERBALLY ASSAULTED WHILE TRUMP RALLY WAS ON”

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus

    News

    Student Senate and the Eau Claire City Council agree on and approve multiple roundabouts

  • Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus

    News

    Snow days make for complications for UWEC student teachers

  • Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus

    News

    Police Blotter

  • Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus

    News

    Emmanuelle seeks a third term on the Eau Claire City Council

  • Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus

    News

    Senate passes resolution in support of proposed State street redesign

  • Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus

    News

    Record snowfall could lead to severe flooding

  • Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus

    Column

    Old News

  • Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus

    News

    City Councilmen face off for presidency position

  • Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus

    News

    Life Savers educate campus about suicide, mental health

  • Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus

    News

    Student Senate approves constitutional amendments to include Barron County branch campus

Navigate Right
The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.
Students verbally assaulted while Trump rally was on campus