Letter to EMU from Tiran Burrel

Dear Eastern Michigan University Regents & Administration:

As a Eastern Michigan University Alum, current graduate student, and African American male, I am disappointed and disgusted with the manner in which you all have handled the situations around the hateful graffiti on campus. You all have been seemingly adverse in your actions to, first of all, make your students feel safe and wanted at this university. You all have failed to send further correspondence on behalf of the University since our previous meeting with myself and other student leaders. You have failed to provide any further updates for your students on the investigation of the racist graffiti incidents. You have failed to do anything to show students any glimmer of hope that you all actually care about the concerns of the general population of African American students.

Not only have you all failed on several levels to ensure students feel comfortable and wanted at this university, you all allow further investigation and formal letters to be sent to students who protested against these actions that made students feel unsafe and unwanted at this University. Some of you have stated “this is a matter of policy,” or “in the real world, when you break the rules, you have to live with the consequences.” In the real world, Blacks are faced with charges for crimes they did not commit. In the real world, Blacks are killed every day by white police officers who rarely ever have to go through the judicial system, and if they do, the chances of actually being convicted are even smaller. In the real world, Blacks are alienated and oppressed with little voice to speak against their oppressor, which resembles how this University has decided to treat a demographic of students that make up 19% of its population.

When you allow Black students to be treated like this, this is more than a socio-cultural hiccup on your end, it could lead to a financial nightmare and recruitment failure for the university. Why would we as Black students recommend this University to anyone of our race as we experience first hand the blatant attacks against us with no resolution? How can we speak to the diversity of this university when the university has taken more time to investigate and call in for questioning students who protest than they have to find the culprits that ignited the fire inside the protesters? How can we say “Education First” when a university gives additional stress of potential judicial sanctions a month after a protest and one week before final exams begin? How can we say “We are TRUEMU” when Black students become disciplinary martyrs for things that they believe in while you all use the “progress” of the Black Student 10 to cover up your own institutionalized attacks? Lastly, how do you expect for Black Alum to contribute to a University that has alienated and circumvented outlets for their voices to be heard during their matriculation here?

We cannot and we will not support a university that has done nothing more than alienate their own students to save face. The bigger issue at hand is that you all have only made matters worse as you give media more reasons to cover these terrible issues that you all seem to not care about, especially with a petition of over 1,000 signatures urging the university to not pursue any sanctions against students for their protests against your own failures to resolve these matters or even make students feel like you care to take action. Though I have not ran a University, I understand people and demographics enough to know that you all have taken multiple steps in the wrong direction. It is with my little hope for you all that you find it within your hearts, minds, souls, or whatever place your moral compass and rationale reside to begin taking steps in the opposite direction from where you have gone.


Tiran Burrel


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