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Viewpoint: What does it mean to be safe

BY ERICA MINDEL AND MELISSA ROSENBAUM

Published December 11, 2013

For freshmen heading into arguably the most stressful week of school — not necessarily prepared for the late night studying and the hours of reviewing and memorizing that lay ahead — Tuesday morning’s events were unexpected and unwelcome. To be one of the many students who woke up to a mock eviction notice underneath their door in their residence hall on Dec. 10 must have surely spiked their stress during this already hectic time.

Students living on campus, who received this flyer, were thrust into a conflict by virtue of simply living in a residence hall. They did not have the ability to choose whether or not they wanted to participate or engage in this conversation. This invasion of students’ personal space inflicted harm and spread intimidation among our campus community. This act broke the trust that students hold with the University and their peers to uphold a safe space.

At a discussion held at Hillel on December 10, students expressed how the event impacted them. Students commented:

“I felt threatened by the events of today.”

“I felt like I was being personally attacked for being a Zionist. I felt embarrassed and alone.”

“The sense of dialogue and tolerance that U of M preaches was disrupted.”

“I felt like I had to be ashamed to support Israel.”

The University of Michigan’s professors, students and organizations all work together to create productive and respectful ways of expressing viewpoints and opinions on our campus. The mock eviction campaign contradicted and tarnished these efforts.

In the Winter 2006 semester, the University launched the Expect Respect campaign, an educational initiative aimed at supporting a campus climate where everyone feels safe and included. The campaign works to create an environment that values and celebrates our diverse community and promotes respect for every individual. The invasion of student dormitories was in complete violation of what our campus strives to achieve through Expect Respect. We as a community should not tolerate any action that makes students feel unsafe on this campus.

Every student on this campus has the right, and is even encouraged, to express and explore their personal beliefs. However, when this expression intimidates students and infringes on their privacy, this expression no longer has a place on this campus. It is our collective responsibility, as a larger Michigan community, to ensure that no member feels threatened and that we all strive to uphold the values of Expect Respect for all students.

Erica Mindel is an LSA sophomore and Melissa Rosenbaum is an LSA junior.