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By Jim Tharpe March 31, 2016

Media off base in claims about Emory counseling after Trump incident

Oh, the horrors of the academic life.

The long walks to class, the agony of trying to decide between a skinny latte or an iced espresso caramel macchiato at Starbucks.

Now comes the possibility that someone might actually write a leading presidential contender’s name in chalk in a public place at a highly regarded institution of higher learning.

That happened on a recent Sunday night(or early Monday morning) at Emory University when someone wrote GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s name in chalk across the campus. The "chalking" incident ignited a campus protest where some students expressed "pain" and rabid paranoia in wake of the serial pro-Trump scribblings.

The protesters were immediately pilloried from the right and left as a bunch of coddled whiners. One part of the news stories and viral social media posts caught PolitiFact’s attention. Many of the reports said the offended students were provided counseling to ease their PTSD — Post Trump Scribbling Disorder.

politifact-photos-trump_at_emory (1).JPG

Say it ain’t so. Well, PolitiFact Georgia discovered it mostly ain’t.

The trouble began when a yet-to-be-identified person(s) wrote pro-Trump slogans in chalk on sidewalks, steps and railings on the campus. Horrified students awoke to the madness and quickly noted Trump’s penchant for the politically controversial. Trump has advocated deporting all illegal immigrants and banning Muslims from entering the U.S.

The student newspaper, The Emory Wheel, reported that about 40 students soon staged a campus protest, at one point shouting to the school’s administration: "You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!" Then students moved into the administration building calling out: "It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains."

Critics saw the incident as political correctness run amok at an institution that is supposed to promote free speech and a diversity of ideas.

The pundits pounced. The story was carried across the globe. Left-leaning comedian Bill Maher said this: "I so badly want to dropkick these kids into a place where there is actual pain and suffering."

Larry Wilmore fired off a brutal Comedy Central segment, complete with a fake Emory student (Justice Davenport) who opined: "I had no idea I went to school with people who had different opinions from me. It’s terrifying."

Newspapers, network television and social media joined the beat-down, many asserting that counseling was being offered to soothe the bruised psyches of the offended students.

Featured Fact-check

But that part of the story is off base, Emory spokeswoman Elaine Justice said.

"Emory University did not offer counseling to students as a result of the incident and subsequent controversy," Justice said in an email.

Part of the counseling confusion comes from a March 22 email sent to students.

The email refers to "emergency funds" offered "for student groups seeking to respond to the incident."

But those funds were not for counseling, Justice said. ruled as "false" one report that Emory provided "emergency counseling."

"Likewise, the (Student Government Association) and College Council offered ‘open office hours’ to their fellow students, not counseling," Justice said.

But Justice also added this: "As is the case at every university, counseling is routinely available to all students in whatever circumstances they are experiencing."

Did any Emory student seek that routinely available counseling as a result of the chalkings? Justice said she did not know.

Our ruling

Various media outlets reported that counseling was specifically offered to Emory students upset over the fact that someone chalked pro-Trump messages on campus.

But no funds were provided for any kind of emergency counseling due to the incident.

Counseling is routinely provided to Emory students upon request. But there was no organized effort to counsel students due to this specific incident.

The university cannot confirm whether any individual students sought routine counseling as a result of the chalkings. And that does create a bit of uncertainty in the dust-up over the Trump chalkings and their aftermath.

We rate this statement Mostly False.

Our Sources

Politico article on Bill Maher

Larry Wilmore segment on Emory

Daily Caller article on Emory protests

Inside Higher Ed article on Emory protests

Torpy At Large

Emails from Elaine Justice, March 30

Snopes on "emergency counseling" for Emory students

Emory Wheel article March 22




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Media off base in claims about Emory counseling after Trump incident

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