It is obvious that tensions within our country have heightened since the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign season, and since the election of the 45th president on Nov. 8, 2017, the number of discussions about the future of our nation have only risen.
In recent days, an open discourse on the status of our country and President Donald Trump have appeared on campus along highly-trafficked walkways and patios.
Wake Forest has most certainly had its share of political discussion in its history, but this newly found conversation seems to have proposed a new and possibly bipartisan approach to achieving an indirect debate.
Something known as “Chalk Talk” has surfaced along the grounds of the Lower Quad, with comments ranging very widely in respect to the political spectrum. Examples of these comments range from “We Support OUR President” to “Love Trumps Hate” and “#BLM.” Other comments included “Pray for Our Country,” “Look for the Good Under Every Label,” and “Stay Open-minded.” Many comments written took to a religious or spiritual standpoint, stating “John 3:16,” “Pray for Our President,” “Jesus Died for You,” and “God is Colorblind.”
While most writings seemed to propose new ideas, numerous comments were made on pre-existing statements. Sometimes, these comments would include either crossing off the previously written statement or stemming off in an effort to reciprocate with an opposing idea. One statement wrote “Black Lives, Blue Lives, All Lives Matter.” Within the next day, “Blue” and “All” were crossed out with a reply stating, “Well, our judicial system does not seem to understand this right now. So, we are going to focus on Black Lives. #BLM.” Within the next 24 hours, another comment was made stating, “Do NOT Write Your Voice Over Mine.”
This method of responding has led to some controversy within the student body and faculty as to whether it is considerate or respectful of other beliefs.
When speaking to other students, I found that the writings left different impressions on each. While some individuals found the chalk discussion to be thought-provoking and worthy of attention, others thought the political conversation to be vilifying and ineffective.
However, through the assorted opinions, it was a common idea that the recent chalk talk exhibited more of the ‘unheard voices.’
It seemed that while usually one political perspective is displayed, this most recent decorative debate revealed a more projected idea of the disparate opinions on campus. The opinions of students printed in colorful and ornate fonts littered the concrete on which thousands of students walk every day, encompassing our school in a plethora of ideas and beliefs.
After the election, President Nathan O. Hatch stated in an email sent to the entire Wake Forest community, “We are a community that profoundly values intellectual discourse and diverse viewpoints. Even more important, we are people who profoundly value one another.”
Wake Forest serves as a representative for the extensive opinions found among our nation as students from around the world assemble into a 340-acre campus. It is through educated discussion that individuals are allowed to not only grow in experience and civility but also learn how to best express their opinions and ideas on the pressing matters that affect the world’s populace today and in the future.
Discourse serves as a vital role in a healthy society (especially a college campus), and it seems that no matter any possible limitation, students are willing to ‘take to the sidewalk’ to proclaim their voices.