Public Safety Halts Distribution of Anti-Trump Poem


In light of the outcome of Tuesday’s historic presidential election, many Manhattan College students have been voicing their opinions regarding the shocking results.

The “Make America Great Again” flag that was once displayed in a seventh floor window of Lee Hall before it was egged is once again hanging up.  Donald Trump attire is being worn by several of the college’s students.

But there are many other students on campus that are highly dissatisfied with Trump’s victory.  Some of them are taking alternative measures to express their views to the community.

On Thursday afternoon, junior peace studies student Isabelle Leyva was seen circulating papers with anti-Trump sentiments across campus.  These papers were left in places such as the O’Malley Library, Miguel and De La Salle Halls, Locke’s Loft, Cafe 1853, and Overlook Manor.

The papers in question attempted to appeal to students by providing anecdotes of citizens that could potentially suffer in an America led by Trump, such as women, Muslims, the LGBT+ community, and citizens of color.

The papers read, “When I hear ‘President Trump’ through the speakers of my TV, I hear the shattering hearts of people all over this country.  Hearts already scarred by the abuse that they face by simply existing.”

Leyva circulated the papers in order to reach out to other people on the campus that did not agree with Trump’s policies.

“I think that it is really easy for the people that are being marginalized by Donald Trump to feel alone on this campus, and I wanted people to have at least the sense that somebody was out there that understood their pain or was trying to,” she said. “I don’t think that this is the time to be neutral. I think this is the time to show people of color, women, everyone that is marginalized that we support them, and the school hasn’t done that.”

Following the distribution of the papers, public safety officials were seen removing them from the places that they were left. Leyva stated that she was not given a reason as to why the papers were being confiscated.

The papers had allegedly been reported as a threat to the public safety office.

The paper said in its closing paragraph, “I will kick and scream.  I will burn everything in this city until the smoke is so strong that you smell it every time you breathe. Just like those who Trump has targeted [sic] feel the hand of oppression around their throats.” Leyva, however, did not feel that she made any legitimate threats.

“The whole poem was full of metaphors.  There was nothing literal about it,” she said.  “I think that people want to find something to disagree with because they are offended by, especially a woman on this campus, expressing an experience they don’t agree with.”

According to Andrew Gauzza, a freshman member of MC’s Government and Politics club who voted for Trump, the removal of the papers by Public Safety, who did not respond to a request for comment, could be seen as a violation of the freedom of speech.

“I believe that [the First Amendment] is an inalienable right that belongs to every citizen, regardless of political belief,” Gauzza said.  “If there was no rule saying that she couldn’t do this without a permit or a pass or anything, then I think it’s wrong, and I think that’s censorship of speech, even if I disagree with it.”

However, Dr. Richard Satterlee, Vice President for Student Life, pointed out rules concerning the circulation of papers like Leyva’s on campus.

“Fliers must be approved for posting and distribution by the Office of Student Engagement and follow their public posting policy,” said Satterlee. “While we support free speech, we cannot condone materials that may be considered as threatening or violent in nature.”

Satterlee also pointed out that Student Life is currently “supporting several forums to encourage constructive dialogue,” following the outcome of the election.

The Public Safety office was not the only group that responded negatively to the papers.  Many students also expressed rejection of Leyva’s work.  She recalled students ripping the papers down and throwing them at her.  She also said that students called her various obscene names.

But there were also students that thanked Leyva for what she was doing, and even asked her for copies of her poem.

“If I hadn’t done this, I don’t think anybody would have because they’re afraid to.  It’s something that needed to happen,” she said.  “I will continue to speak out against bigotry on this campus, until I feel that the administration has done all they can to make this a safe space.”

The college will not be pursuing any further disciplinary action against Leyva.

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