MISSOULA – Folks driving through the University District on Thursday afternoon may have noticed the word “IMPEACH written on the side of Mount Sentinel using the “M.”
The message that was meant to protest President Donald Trump’s visit to Missoula didn’t stay up long.
The group that installed it was putting the finishing touches on the “I” when they were asked to take it down by staff from the University of Montana.
UM Vice President of Enrollment and Strategic Planning Cathy Cole said that the motives behind the university’s decision were not political. Instead, she said that it was both a safety and environmental concern.
“Not that we don’t support freedom of speech — because of course, we do. But we do have policies that prohibit anyone from posting on live vegetation on campus,” Cole said.
“And anyone putting up anything that is of a display nature they have to get a permit for and the students didn’t have that. So there’s a lot of liability that goes with that and we just want to make sure that everybody is safe,” Cole added.
The display was put together by a group of sophomores from the university who say they weren’t with any political groups on campus, but rather were just a group of friends wanting to send a message.
The students said they researched the laws associated with putting up the display, but it turned out that just because it was technically legal didn’t mean that it was allowed.
The property is considered public lands, but UM owns the more than 600 acres on the front of the mountain which means that people recreating on the land have to adhere to their policies.
Although the students were upset, they said that they understood that there could be environmental implications if the display were to remain up.
“We totally agree with that. Didn’t really have too much friction. We know we got a good couple phots of the actual message and that is kind of what we came here to do so overall we’re happy,” UM sophomore Same Walte said.
Earlier on Thursday, another anti-Trump message was removed from Mount Sentinel while the word “LIAR” remained on Mount Jumbo.
Cole stressed that the messages that were written were not the reflections of the position of the University of Montana on any political matters.
Reporting by Lauren Heiser for MTN News