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Forum confronts race at the University (WITH VIDEO)

By Rachel Premack, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 19, 2013

Following the viral #BBUM Twitter campaign initiated by the Black Student Union to bring awareness to issues faced by people of color on campus, BSU and multiple other University groups held a forum Tuesday night to focus on tangible solutions.

More than 150 people attended the event, which ended with two proposals: Rackham student Garrett Felber’s plan for an affirmative action teach-in next year and Rackham student Maite Rodriguez-Caballero’s request that the next University president focus on establishing a better-funded, more conveniently-located Trotter Multicultural Center. The current location is east of the intersection of South University and Washtenaw Avenues.

The Black Student Union, Rackham Graduate School’s SCORE, the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies and We Are Michigan were all sponsors of the event.

LSA senior Tyrell Collier, BSU’s president, said three more initiatives following the nationally-trending Twitter campaign will be announced as early as the end of this semester.

Before planning specific actions to further the community’s goals, attendees spoke about their own campus experiences. This followed Tuesday’s Freeze Out protest and the #BBUM trending campaign.

Students discussed their frustration with the lack of change that has occurred on campus despite administration emphasis on diversity. Some discussed how they were tired of the treatment they receive at the University, others regarding how the Black community needs to be more unified.

LSA junior Rolly Abiola, the Trotter student manager, said she was exhausted by the University’s lack of action to ameliorate its attitude towards minorities, despite promoting itself as liberal and diverse.

“I am sick and tired of the way this university continues to silence us,” Abiola said. “I keep getting up and I keep talking because I am afraid of what will happen if I stop.”

LSA senior Ozi Uduma cried when she admitted that she often didn’t wish to be at the University, but her voice gathered strength as she discussed the warm relationships she holds with her fellow female students of color.

“I hope that we learn to love each other better, love each other fiercely, love each other strongly,” Uduma said. “This movement cannot work unless we love each other.”

Leon Howard, a residence hall director and president of the Association of Black Professionals, Administrators, Faculty and Staff — said minority staff and students have parallel experiences.

“Instead of being the only Black person in the room, you might be the only Black person on a committee,” Howard said. “Instead of being overlooked and not seen in the classroom, you get overlooked in meetings. What you do never seems to be good enough.”

For LSA senior Chloe Brown, the recent change in campus race relations is palpable, and not for the better.

“It feels like there’s just something in the air,” Brown said. “There’s just something in the water. It just feels very different.”


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