Ball State University President Geoff Mearns sent an email to the campus community Saturday afternoon noting a number of incidents on and near campus involving a Friday night caravan of dozens of vehicles displaying signs and flags in support of President Trump. Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election this (Sat.) afternoon by The Associated Press and other news agencies, as a result of absentee and mail-in vote counts in Pennsylvania, in favor of the former vice president. Trump has threatened lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of voting, making unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.
Some students reported being verbally accosted by those in the caravan. Mearns has instructed Ball State University Police (UPD) to step up patrols on campus streets and entrances, and urged students to walk away from protesters, and report any incidents immediately to UPD. Muncie Police Department (MPD) officers will also be on alert for any other such acts, off campus. UPD and MPD will interlace patrols near campus to protect residents in nearby neighborhoods, including students living in off-campus housing.
Here is the full text of Mearns’ message to the BSU community:
“Dear Students and Colleagues: At our Fall Convocation, I anticipated that we would likely face additional challenges this year. And I observed that it was incumbent upon all of us to respond to these challenges with a sustained commitment to the enduring values that have distinguished our University for more than 100 years. This week, there have been a few incidents on campus involving people from outside of our university community. Although these agitators have not displayed any weapons, they are harassing and trying to provoke our students. While I respect every person’s First Amendment rights, I unequivocally condemn anyone’s attempt to intimidate or threaten someone else. Over the past four days, I have been kept informed of these events, which escalated last evening. I appreciate that these episodes have understandably caused some of our students to feel unsettled and unsafe. I send this message to let you know what additional steps we are taking today to prevent further disruptive, unwelcome, and intimidating actions. This morning, I directed the leadership of our University Police Department to increase patrols in and around campus. As part of this proactive preparation, our officers will be positioned at the different entry points to campus beginning this evening and continuing for the foreseeable future. Additionally, our officers will continue to work in partnership with other local law enforcement agencies to increase patrols in the neighborhoods adjacent to our campus in order to enhance the safety of our students who live off-campus. I have asked Vice President of Student Affairs Ro-Anne Royer Engle to instruct her staff to provide our students with any additional support that they need. I have also asked Provost Susana Rivera Mills to communicate with our academic deans to address any concerns that our faculty and staff may have. Everyone is working together—in unity—to respond to these unacceptable and unwarranted provocations. On that point, I want our students to know that one of the principal objectives of these interlopers is to provoke you. I urge you to exercise restraint. Please don’t engage with these agitators. Please walk away. But if you see any threatening conduct, please notify UPD immediately by calling (765) 285-1111. Earlier today, I received a letter from the leaders of several student organizations. I am grateful for their strong leadership and their constructive suggestions. One of their suggestions is to expand on-campus shuttle service. I have directed my staff to implement that suggestion immediately. Ball State University is a diverse community. We value that diversity. Accordingly, we are called to respect everyone. In our Beneficence Pledge, we commit to such mutual respect. But I will not tolerate harassment and provocation. I know that tensions are heightened in our country this evening. At our University, though, I am confident that we will honor our commitment to Beneficence, even in these challenging times. It is a privilege to serve you as the president of Ball State University.” Pro-Trump protests across the country could last until Biden is sworn in. Any legal action threatened by President Trump has to get underway, soon. According to the National Archives, states, this year, must finalize their results by December 8, and resolve any controversies over the appointment of their electors at least six days before electors assemble. Electors of the Electoral College are slated to meet in each state on December 14. Elector votes (the Certificates of Vote) must be received by the President of the Senate and the Archivist, no later than nine days after the meeting of electors. Elector votes are counted at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The inauguration will be held January 20. Media organizations’ declarations of a winner are not official and do not have the power of law.