Dear Young’ins,

My name is Tsültrim Davis, and as a graduate of the Class of 2006, I was a Freshmen when chalking was banned. I am really excited that it is being discussed again, and institutional memory has not erased it yet, but I want to make sure everyone has their facts straight, whatever side of the debate they are on.

First and foremost…Chalking was not just banned, plain and simple. President Bennet, with limited faculty support, placed a “moratorium” on chalking in the middle of the semester, with the intent that there would be discussion about what chalking is, what it means, and its role as a form of dialogue. (Don’t forget, the majority of chalking was done twice a year, for WesFest weekend and for National Coming Out Day, and the chalking was heavily queer in nature). As it turned out, everyone was willing to talk and discuss the nature of chalking EXCEPT for President Bennet. The WSA worked hard on a new Chalking Policy, and over 90 percent of the students AS WELL AS over 90 percent of the faculty voted in favor of the new policy. I do not remember the details, so I won’t pretend to, but basically it said that no one has the right not to be offended, and chalkings that were explicit, whether in language or content, were perfectly acceptable, especially as a means of encouraging conversation and dialogue. What was not permitted were personal attacks, anything that could be conceived as slander (names were not allowed at all, I don’t think) and nothing that could foster or promote hatred towards anyone or group. There were numerous other points, (I am sure the WSA could get you a copy) and many pro-chalking students felt that the new Chalking Policy was still too strict, but that, all things considered, it was a decent compromise, and a very encouraging step in the right direction.

Then, during the late afternoon of the day before Finals, for the sake of encouraging a more open campus that promotes dialogue, President Bennet unilaterally banned chalking entirely. That was his reasoning. The overwhelming majority of students AND faculty members opposed this ban and insisted that chalking should be allowed, but the administration would not budge.

This debate raged on in ways significantly more articulate than I can offer, from the instance the moratorium was placed until the semester ended, and beyond. I encourage everyone who is now engaging in this debate to at least understand the history of it, and to recognize that it is not a clear-cut issue. Chalking meant a lot of different things to a lot of people. No students on campus now were actually around when chalking was allowed (except for all of you wonderful folks on the 5-year plan. Or 6, or…) and I am glad people have strong opinions about it, but please recognize, especially those of you who never experienced it and do not necessarily see the point of it, that it means a lot more than dirty language scrawled in pretty chalk.

At the time, the Queer community composed an article entitled “Why We Chalk,” which I would like to share with the Wesleyan Community, since I am betting it is something many of you never had the chance to read. It can be accessed at

Tsültrim Davis

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