Protests erupted at Eastern Michigan University following three months of sit-in protests in response to the repeated incidents of racist graffiti on university buildings Tuesday night.
The graffiti, which said “Leave N******” in spray paint on EMU’s Ford Hall, sparked the first sit-in Nov. 2, in which about 60 students congregated in the student center until 6 a.m.
The sit-in ended with 16 students receiving notice from the university that their refusal to leave the building, despite warnings from law enforcement that the building closed at 1 a.m., would result in disciplinary action for violating the school’s Code of Conduct.
On Jan. 16, EMU Student Government tweeted a photo in support of the 16 students being punished by the University for protesting racist activity on campus.
Despite the campus-wide protests against the administration’s decision to punish the 16 sit-in students who occupied the building after hours, the university has continued to sanction students for conduct violations. The violations include “failure to comply” and “interfering with operations of a building.”
According to the Detroit Free Press, students gathered EMU’s student center to continue the protest on Tuesday evening.
Many of the students created hand-made signs that condemned the university for denying its students their right to peacefully protest. When students heard that EMU regent Alexander Simpson was in the building, the congregation moved toward him and continued to condemn the university’s decision to punish the protesters.
The university president received criticism from the protesters, who claim he has remained silent on the issue, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“Eastern Michigan University’s President is a RACIST,” one sign read, rousing a massive cheer from protesters.
Several signs read “Racist Regents,” while another read “Guess what Eastern? Peaceful protests are a constitutional right!”
According to the Detroit Free Press, students like EMU sophomore Mike Long expressed frustration with the university for failing to provide due justice when it punished protesters but has yet to condemn the original offender behind the racist graffiti on campus.
“Really? They want to punish the protesters, but aren’t doing anything to people who wrote the messages,” Long said. “They are the ones who are racist.”