Approximately 30 protesters lined the entryway of the Michigan Union leading up to the Pendleton Ballroom standing silently with duct tape over their mouths and holding posters for an event, held by Students4Justice, during the University of Michigan’s Campus Day.
The protest was intended to show solidarity with prospective students and their families who may have been affected by a racially-charged incident that occurred earlier this year in a group chat and offered to admitted students a chance to tour campus and have their questions about the University answered by students, faculty and staff.
Though the perpetrator of the racist messages was found to be non-University affiliated, event organizers emphasized the aftermath of the postings on the atmosphere of the group chat was toxic. LSA junior Lakyrra Magee reflected this view.
“After the n-word had been said group chat members either didn’t say anything or started to attack students of color in the group chat,” Magee said. “It was more than the initial racial slur, it was the whole response that occurred, which epitomizes our experiences here at the University of Michigan.”
The incident, which occurred in January, sparked controversy when a person texted “N—-RS ARE THE WORST YOU KNOW” on the #Victors2021 group chat.
“The importance of the silent protest is that things will continue on,” Magee said. “Our goal is not to necessarily stop people from going to Campus Day, but we want them to remember every step of the way what is happening here.”
The protest paralleled the goal's of last week’s sit-in. Students4Justice was, again, calling on University President Mark Schlissel to address its concerns, which it felt had been ignored. The group’s demands have been outlined in a letter and list of demands addressed to Schlissel, the administration and Central Student Government.
“(The) actions by the administration have felt disingenuous,” the letter reads. “They often are reactionary to student mobilization, including the most recent efforts by the administration to release statements. (Those addressed) have yet to make a statement about multiple racist, islamophobic, and anti-Semitic incidents on campus.”
In addition, Students4Justice recently published a petition that echoes the themes in its list of demands.
Those who participated in the demonstration reflected a feeling intolerance toward racism. LSA sophomore Tansy Massey-Green cited a feeling of accomplishment.
“We made people talk about what was happening,” Massey-Green said. “Prospective students need to know that racism is not tolerated here. Some parents were cheering us on and some were clearly very uncomfortable. This all provoked conversation, which is a great success.”