Chalking churns discontent

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  • One chalking reads “Place Hillary Votes Here” with an arrow leading towards a manhole cover. Both UNI Democrats and UNI College Republicans say they do not stand for this behavior.

  • Pro-Democratic Party chalkings are defaced last week on campus by anonymous chalkers

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JOSHUA DAUSENER, Copy Editor | [email protected]

Heightened political tensions on campus have spawned a series of controversial chalkings this past week. Several pro-Trump and anti-Hillary messages have appeared around campus. Vandals have also defaced pro-Democrat messages on campus sidewalks.

The vandals defaced several pro-Democrat chalkings by adding phrases including “Benghazi,” “#HillNo” and “Donald” near the messages. Various chalkings listing Democratic candidates had the names crossed out. Some chalkings replaced the crossed out candidates with names of Republican candidates, or others such as “Harambe” and “Deez Nuts.”

Individuals also chalked several complete messages, including “Killary for Prison” near the 23rd Street Market, and “Hilary is a murder [sic]”  near Bender Hall. Additionally, individuals chalked the message “Place Hillary Votes Here” with an arrow pointing to a sewer or a trash can, depending on the location.

The chalkings were completely anonymous, as they were not signed by any particular student or student organization. It is unclear who vandalized the Democrats’ chalkings.

UNI College Republicans Director of Outreach Meredith Miller condemned the defacements in a statement to the Northern Iowan.

“As soon as we found out, we went straight to the Campanile to talk to the Northern Iowa Democrats,” Miller said. “Since we agreed that both parties have been working hard to promote voting and our candidates, it was agreed that this is something we do not stand for. We told them that we will keep our eyes and ears open to put a stop to this disrespectful behavior. We can only hope that whoever did this realizes that we don’t rise up by tearing others down.”

The UNI College Republicans have chalked several messages of their own promoting their candidates, such as U.S. House of Representatives candidate Rod Blum and Iowa State Senate candidate Bonnie Sadler. All chalkings by student organizations, including the Northern Iowa Democrats and the UNI College Republicans, are signed by the organization that wrote the message.

“Normally, people are pretty good about following the rules. And when I say rules, we don’t have tons,” said Assistant Director for Outreach and Engagement Constance Hansen. “We’re just asking you to not chalk all over the sides of buildings, and on the sides of the fountain, and on walls and stuff.”

Hansen said she and Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG) had been in contact with political student organizations on campus to try to find out which particular students were responsible for the chalking and to try and stop future defacement.

Hansen and NISG do not believe any particular organization is responsible, and that the chalkings were done by random Trump supporters.

Hansen noted several policies in the Student Organization Handbook that the chalkings violated, including: chalking on benches, chalking on the fountain outside Maucker Union, not signing the chalking with a student organization name and the defacement of other organizations’ chalkings.

The pro-Trump chalkings near Maucker Union were also in violation of election laws, which prohibit campaign materials and messages less than 300 feet from a polling location. Maucker Union has been a polling location throughout the week, hosting early and satellite voting.

In response to the defacements, Northern Iowa Democrats officer Aaron Friel organized an event on Facebook titled “Democrats Chalk Back” to counteract the vandalism. The event was quickly organized on a Sunday afternoon, and that night about ten people attended the event.

“It was just to put down new chalk on campus for the Democrats,” Friel said. “We wanted to stick to a positive message. When we went out to chalk [Sunday night], we didn’t chalk anything about Donald Trump. We talked about Hillary. We talked about what we’re voting for, not what we’re voting against.”

Friel noted that the Democrats drew boxes around their new chalking so that in the event of additional defacement, such vandalism would be obvious.

Most of the chalking was washed away during a rainstorm on Tuesday night.

Election day is Nov 8; early and satellite voting is ongoing in the Maucker Union today until 3 p.m