Open Letter from EMU Faculty Regarding the Targeting of Black Student Protesters

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to inform you of a matter that requires our immediate attention. Three Black male students have been summoned to appear at the Office of Student Conduct to face disciplinary actions for their participation in the peaceful occupation of the Student Center last week. The summons indicate that the nature of the offense is simply: choosing to remain in the Student Center after its normal operating hours and not leaving when asked. However, two of these students will face serious consequences that undermine their academic progress if sanctions are enforced. It is simply inconceivable that Black students should find themselves shut out of EMU for peacefully sending a symbolic challenge to racist messages telling them that the university is no place for them. Please join faculty in speaking out for these students.

Here are some things you can do:

Email President Smith (president@emich.edu; 734-487-2211) and ask him to intervene to have all charges related to the student protest dropped.

Contact Michael Smith, Associate Director of the Office of Student Conduct, Community Standards and Well-being (msmit288@emich.edu; or call 487-2157 and ask to speak to a director or coordinator) to let the Office know that you disagree with the disciplining of students exercising their right to peaceful protest.

Spread the word on social media and get the community involved: #ourhouseEMU

If you would like some talking points, here are some generated by the faculty who met with the affected students this morning:

—Given the important history of civil disobedience in the United States and the fact that Objective 3.1 in EMU’s Strategic Theme for Student Engagement and Success is to “support students in becoming actively engaged global citizens with strong cultural awareness,” our students have a right to engage in peaceful protest on our campus.

—That the recent acts of racist aggression on campus combined with the heightened racial tension produced by the current presidential race are substantive facts that must be taken into consideration by judicial officers in assessing if the student’s conduct should be deemed disorderly.

—That the students’ “inappropriate use of a University facility” is directly related to the University no longer providing them with a 24 hour facility in which to gather.

—That the only “inappropriate use of University facilities” going on here is the misuse of University resources on the disciplining of peaceful student activists.

One comment

  1. Doris wartel, m.s. 89

    As an emu alumnus and family of many emu alums, I am appalled at present smith’s heavy handed treatment of peaceful protesters against racism . It is imperative that all students be free from trauma on campus and be allowed to assemble as long as they need to for civil rights.

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