Washington State University students plan to erect a “Trump wall” on the Pullman campus in support of the presidential candidate’s stance on immigration policy and his proposal to build a wall along the country’s southern border.
The demonstration on WSU’s Glenn Terrell Mall will resemble one held at the University of Washington in May, when Donald Trump supporters erected a plywood wall painted to look like bricks on the Seattle campus. It featured the words “Trump Wall” written in spray paint.
The wall drew a crowd of about 100 people, including anti-Trump protesters who decried his views as racist. It even drew a response from UW President Ana Mari Cauce, who called it “offensive” and “contrary to the values of an inclusive, global campus.”
The WSU chapter of the College Republicans is seeking approval from the university and hopes to erect the wall in early October.
“I think it’s going to be a good event,” said James Allsup, the club’s president. “Hopefully people will come out and get informed, and we can have a dialogue about the issues. I’m expecting a wide range of feedback.”
Asked for comment, some students already have expressed disapproval.
Eduardo Ramos, a sophomore and member of the Latino student group MEChA, said he respects the College Republicans’ speech rights but wishes they would choose a less-offensive tactic.
“As a Latino student, it’s disappointing to see that some of my peers want to do something like this and put other students in an uncomfortable situation,” he said. “When you do something bold like this … even some people who agree will shy away because they know it will impact them in the future.”
Another MEChA member, Anita Mendoza, said the mock wall discounts the struggles that many immigrants face.
“Many people that Trump wants to deport, the hardworking individuals that make it possible for us to have food on our table, come here for a better life – not to make things worse like he claims,” Mendoza said.
Allsup, who introduced Trump before a speech last month in Everett, dismissed accusations that racial tensions influence the candidate’s immigration stance.
The matter is purely economic, he said. “I don’t think race is an issue in immigration.”
Ramos argued that immigrants contribute greatly to the economy: “Undocumented immigrants contribute far more to the country than they actually benefit because of their status.”
The university typically does not comment on the subject of campus demonstrations.
“We recognize their right to conduct a political demonstration,” said WSU spokesman Rob Strenge. “Our only goal in a situation like this is to make sure it’s conducted in a safe manner that doesn’t interfere with the operations of the university.”
Allsup noted, “This is not the first time the College Republicans at WSU have done something to demonstrate against illegal immigration.”
In 2006, the club erected a 24-foot chain-link fence on the Glenn Terrell Mall to show support for a congressional bill to build a fence along the U.S. border with Mexico. One professor responded by cursing at students, and the incident ignited a political firestorm that made headlines on Fox News.
Ramos, whose parents are Mexican immigrants, said the demonstration will be “a good indicator” of WSU’s social climate.
“Students at WSU are more interested in being a Coug than issues of race,” he said. “There’s always a level of discomfort, but I think WSU is a fairly open arena to show where you stand on an issue.”
Still, he said, border-wall advocates are “really being disrespectful to the nature of this country. We are a society of immigrants.”
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