On Friday Oct.2, the official “Students for Trump” organization’s Twitter page posted, “Public university officials of Western Illinois University and radical leftist students, blocking our chapter’s tabling efforts. Completely unhinged.”
The public comment followed events that occurred near the campus mall area that day. A group of students gathered at a table which displayed a flag that said, “Trump 2020: Make America Great Again.” The students were asked to leave by “university officials,” which were graduate students working under the direction of the nearby University Union.
Upon being asked to leave, the official “Students for Trump” organization posted a video of them being asked to leave which was viewed over 30,000 times. The video gained comments from followers such as @agentgi10296754 who said, “The USA should not fund ANY university who does not allow free speech. THIS IS AMERICA!” and @theoriginaljay5 who said, “#DefundTheUniversity.”
While the unregistered organization argued that their right to freedom of speech was being infringed upon, their actions were in violation of University Policies. In order to register an event on campus, a designated scheduler from a registered student organization or department on campus must complete the campus scheduling and registration form. As the Student Organization Registration Process Form, which can be found at http://www.wiu.edu/student_services/ose/student_organizations/registrationProcess.php states, “All events and meetings will be scheduled through a centralized process. This process is applicable to student organizations, departments, campus-wide events and Non-WIU events. All events, meetings and non-course meetings (such as departmental meetings, exam review sessions, tutoring sessions, etc.) are required to use this centralized process to submit their room request.”
In addition, policies have been increased for both on campus and off campus events. These have been increased to accommodate safe regulations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these regulations, stated on http://www.wiu.edu/vpas/policies/covid_scheduling.php are, “Upon event approval, event coordinators will receive instructions on how to track attendance for contact tracing purposes. All event and meeting attendance must be reported through the centralized University attendance tracking system. In addition to attendance tracking information, event coordinators will also be provided with a kit of event supplies prior to their event. Event Kits will be provided for events outside of organizational or departmental meetings. Depending on the complexity of the event, Event Kits may include hand sanitizer for both event staff and event attendees, bottles of disinfectant and paper towels to wipe down event equipment, scanners for attendance tracking, thermometers if deemed necessary. If outside, pop-up tents to designate the event area and digital access to customizable event signage will be provided.”
While it is unclear if further action will be required, university policy states that, “Failure to comply with the protocols set forth in this document may result in disciplinary action through Human Resources or conduct processes.”