Chalk around GATA fountain with messages favoring the Black Lives Matter movement and social justice were combatted with dueling counter messages Tuesday morning.
Some of the original messages were “I matter”, “Say their names” and “Black Lives Matter”. Some counter messages read “Blue lives matter”, “Back the blue” and “My dad’s life matters”.
Since that time, students have expressed discontent on social media, while others have taken action to remove certain messages.
Several theatre students arrived to campus around 12:30 a.m. early Thursday morning with buckets full of water to erase newly written chalk that responded to social justice and Black Lives Matter statements.
Jessica Harms, senior musical theatre major from Yorvalinda, California, was one of several students who erased chalk they believed was offensive.
“We saw there were hateful things around written in chalk, and we decided together to erase the hate,” Harms said. “So much violence is happening against the African American community, and some people want to put blanket statements over it like ‘all lives matter’ which really takes away from Black Lives Matter.”
Twitter caught fire accusing students of being racist and childish after new chalk messages emerged.
“Just ya friendly reminder to the Blue Lives Matter chalk people at ACU: We go to a Christian school. So try Jesus, but not me. Because I throw hands,” said one tweet.
The original chalk messages were drawn by the women’s basketball team Sunday night. Makayla Mabry, senior criminal justice major from San Antonio and a member of the team, said she expected the messages to receive a response.
“When you put your opinions and beliefs out there for everyone to judge on such a controversial topic, especially so close to the election, it was bound to happen,” said Mabry, who is Black. “They missed the point of our message. We just want justice and for our lives to matter, too.”
While several theatre students said they were comfortable removing the messages anytime during the day, Harms said it was most convenient during the evening.
“We are all theatre majors, so we had rehearsal tonight,” Harms said. “That was the main reason, and a lot of people were busy. I think all of us would be proud to do this in the daylight. We’re not trying to start a war here; we’re just trying to get rid of the chalk so people don’t have to see it.”
Jack Bledsoe, a sophomore musical theatre major from Dallas, also believed it was necessary to remove the chalk because it resembled hate.
“We love chalk and we love freedom of speech, but hate is something we’re not about, especially just hurtful speech. Any of the counter statements to the Black Lives Matter movement makes Black people that I know feel like their oppressions are invalidated.”
According to the General University Policies: “ACU recognizes the right of students to dissent as long as such behavior does not limit the freedom of others, damage university property or delay the opportunity of the student body, faculty or staff to proceed regularly with their work, school or scheduled activities.”
Cassie Mwema, junior double major in psychology and social work, was one of several other members of the student body who spoke out online, urging the university to address the situation.
“ACU has a history of forgetting minority students when it matters the most to them,” Cassie Mwema, junior double major in psychology and social work, said. “ACU needs to address how they are going to make sure Black voices don’t get silenced.”
The university is currently updating its policy specifically on chalking on campus that will be revealed at a later date.
“We’re not trying to make it this competition; we’re just trying to get rid of it,” Rachel Rosser, junior musical theatre major from Denison, said. “I’m thinking of talking to some people to make it not happen anymore.”