Letter to the Editor

A response to the verbal assault occurring last Tuesday outside the Trump rally


Photo by Amanda Thao

A student holds a sign as Donald Trump visits campus.

Pulling up into a side street parking spot, I found myself behind a old hatchback with a great deal of Trump stickers plastered all over its rear. I could see the Trump merchandise that filled the trunk, reminding me of the dreadful day that laid ahead.

I was in complete disbelief the Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump was coming to speak on campus today. UW-Eau Claire consistently preaches anti-racism, but a presidential candidate who is openly racist and sexist can grace the stage of Zorn Arena? Doesn’t that go against everything that this university supposedly ‘stands for’?

Confused thoughts and feelings raced through my mind as I headed to campus. Walking into Hibbard I could see the Trump supporters already lining up outside Zorn Arena. I thought about the university’s Strategic Plan 2016-2020 that lists “20 percent enrollment of students of color” as one of the four university Guidepost Goals.

It didn’t make sense to me. This university claims to desire to foster a safe and inclusive environment for current (and future) students of color, however, I feel that is unrealistic while also allowing open bigotry on campus.

Traveling between buildings on my way to my next class, I saw that the number of Trump supporters had greatly increased. I also noticed that the campus atmosphere had shifted dramatically. Tension was thick in the air.

I became uncomfortable and anxious. At that point I didn’t feel safe or welcome to be on campus grounds. However, I made the decision to challenge that discomfort and join with other students, professors and community members in protest of the Trump rally.

While protesting, it was saddening to hear some of the phrases being yelled from the other side. I participated in the protest for about three and a half hours; after that I couldn’t physically, mentally or emotionally take it anymore.

There was a heaviness in my chest that went deeper and deeper.

I believe the pain was caused by all the negativity and hatred that infiltrated Eau Claire’s campus that day.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the University’s 2020 diversity “goal” is simply unattainable. Students of color who currently attend Eau Claire feel unsafe on this campus, especially after the Trump rally.

No one should be told to “go back to your own country” or denied a police escort to their car when they feel unsafe. Posts about verbal assaults flooded social media outlets and many received major attention; attention potentially from future students of color.

After seeing that this campus allows such behavior, why would they want to come here? To become a part of the 20 percent diversity to make this University appear to be more welcoming? For their graduation photos to be featured on Winterim course promo posters?

In an email sent out the day of the Trump rally Chancellor Schmidt wrote, “We are doing all we can to ensure the safety of our campus community and visitors.” I don’t think students’ safety was ensured at all and I believe other students, professors and members of this campus community would agree.

If Eau Claire truly desires to drastically change its campus climate by increasing diversity to 20 percent in three short years, then there has to be change.

— Laura McDew, senior liberal studies student