In making the decision to report remotely on President Donald Trump’s Winston-Salem rally, the Old Gold & Black considered both the safety of our writers and the need to continue following Wake Forest’s public health addendum to the code of conduct. College Republicans and Democrats had a similar idea — they both emailed their members and advised them not to attend the event, as it would go against university guidelines.
So, it came with great surprise to our Editorial Board to learn that Wake Forest had rented out the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial (LJVM) Coliseum lot to the Trump campaign for official event parking. Although the university said that those who used the parking were required to follow laws and orders related to COVID-19, our reporting shows that attendees were not wearing masks in the parking lot and were not in complete guidance with social distancing requirements (read more on page one).
Regardless of what unsafe gatherings occurred while Trump supporters waited to be transported to the Smith Reynolds Airport, the more egregious action of Wake Forest is their complicity in providing resources that allowed an event which blatantly disregarded state, local and university policies to take place. Winston-Salem residents who attended the rally put themselves in a position to get infected with the virus and have since returned to their neighborhoods, places of work and local businesses, effectively putting the entire city at risk. How can Wake Forest tell their students to ‘Show Humanitate’ while simultaneously profiting off of a mass gathering that directly puts our community in danger? The rally packed attendees into the stands and seats, with red hats outnumbering masks 100-1 according to reporting from the Winston-Salem Journal.
WFU chose to enable a possible super spreader gathering under the guise of hosting campaign events across party lines.”
All of the language surrounding student behavior focuses on the importance of collective action and sacrifice so that we can stay on campus and protect ourselves and others. Wake Forest playing any role in the gathering of large groups in Winston-Salem is completely antithetical to their marketing campaign and messaging of the semester.
Even further, students are facing extreme consequences for flouting university guidelines. While we are not denouncing the need for sanctions to ensure that the campus stays open, it is extremely hypocritical for Wake Forest not to hold itself to the same standard to which it is holding its students.
This is not about politics, and this is not about partisanship. The university could have refused to provide this service to the Trump campaign, noting that participating in any aspect of the event goes against the university’s philosophy on addressing the coronavirus. Instead, our university chose to enable a possible super spreader gathering under the guise of its history of hosting campaign events across party lines.