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April 23, 2016

Online petition asks West Chester University to not let Trump hold campus rally

Event scheduled for day before Pennsylvania primary

It seems like everywhere Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump goes, someone doesn't want him to be there — especially at colleges.

So when Trump's campaign announced a stop at West Chester University the day before Tuesday's Pennsylvania's primary election, maybe it was inevitable someone would try and stop the whole thing from happening.

An online petition on asks the school not to allow the outspoken and often controversial Trump to use the campus for his Monday afternoon rally. Shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday, it had collected more than 4,080 signatures. Here's the petition's reasoning:

Let us not be the school that hosts Mr. Trump. Let it be known that his ideas and visions for the United States ARE NOT what we believe in and WILL NOT be tolerated on our campus. Sign this petition as a student, saying that you respectfully decline the use of our campus to be used as speaking grounds for a Trump rally. We pay tuition to use our campus the way we choose.

The event is scheduled to take place at the WCU's Hollinger Field House at 4 p.m. Monday. Christopher Fiorentino, West Chester University's interim president, posted a video statement to YouTube on Saturday in which he said the state college "encourages open dialogue and has a long tradition of hosting candidates for public office."

"Understandably, there have been strong reactions from the campus community," he said. "While many disagree with Mr. Trump's positions, it is important to remember that our university is committed to the free exchange of ideas."

Fiorentino continued, "We encourage those who plan to protest to do so in accordance with the principals of civility that are a fundamental value of West Chester University."

Trump is footing the bill for the campaign event, and college's president said no tuition money is being used to support it.

WCU classes will take place as scheduled Monday, but those traveling around campus should plan for extra traffic, Fiorentino said.

West Chester's campus police will coordinate security for the event with the U.S. Secret Service, Pennsylvania State Police and other law enforcement agencies, he said.

Watch Fiorentino's entire message to campus below:

It's unclear whether the petition was started by a West Chester student or staff member or someone unaffiliated with the college because it does not provide a name or contact information.

College facilities frequently have been used as venues for political campaigns, both nationally and locally. Recently, Bernie Sanders held a rally at Temple University's Liacouras Center.

Trump's campaign events have been the center of several violent incidents, most notably at a March rally in Chicago.