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The Network for the Ongoing Reconsideration of Our Nomenclature (NoRon), a newly formed group of University of Michigan community members, hosted a “Satirical Creative Intervention” at Weiser Hall April 3. At the event, NoRon members chalked and posted a sign in front of the Weiser Hall sign reading “Weiser Center for Voter Suppression, Political Assassination and Witch Burning.”
The event was in response to Regent Ron Weiser’s (R) referral of three of Michigan’s Democratic leaders — presumably Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel — as the “three witches” at a meeting at the North Oakland Republican Club on March 25. Weiser also referenced the assassination attempt on Whitmer when answering a question about how the Republican party voting out the “witches” Weiser previously referred to.
The NoRon event came one day after an emergency Regents meeting on April 2 where regents voted 5-0-2 to censure Weiser for his misogynistic remarks.
The group assembled in front of the Weiser Hall at 3 p.m. with free-standing signs and staged a “mock inauguration” by cutting an inaugural ribbon and covering up the “Weiser Hall” sign with a sign reading “Weiser Center for Voter Suppression, Political Assassination and Witch Burning.” Assemblers included members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization, Lecturers’ Employee Organization, Public Health junior Nithya Arun and Engineering junior Carla Voigt –– the newly elected Central Student Government president and vice president –– and numerous students, faculty and staff. Art & Design Professor Rebekah Modrak, whose creative practice involves social critique, helped plan the event and created the signs and stencils NoRon used.
In a press release, NoRon wrote Weiser’s comments were misogynistic, violent and anti-democratic. The group further emphasized that though they support the calls for Weiser’s resignation, the University needs to begin renaming buildings associated with his name.
“While we join everybody who has requested that he resign from the Board of Regents, we also urge the university to quickly begin the process of removing his name from all university-affiliated buildings and institutions, as no member of our community should be forced into symbolic association with a man who has called to suppress the vote, referred to the three elected state leaders as ‘witches’ that must be ‘burned at the stake,’ and has joked about the ‘assassination’ of the (shockingly few) Republicans who have refused to support the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6,” the letter reads.
A number of student groups on campus have reacted to Weiser’s statements. Arun and Voigt called for Weiser’s resignation in a statement released on April 1 in response to the emergency regents meeting.
“Regent Weiser has demonstrated that he cannot faithfully serve the student body,” Arun and Voigt’s statement reads. “His statements do not align with our mission of being the Leaders and Best and therefore, we, the student body President and Vice President of the University of Michigan, representing over forty-eight thousand voices, not only unequivocally condemn Regent Weiser’s harmful statements, but also call on him to resign.”
Silke-Maria Weineck, a German Studies and Comparative Literature Professor, participated in the mock inauguration and said that the inauguration aimed to amplify the need for university building names to reflect the values of the community.
“We partook in the great democratic tradition of dragging the rich, the powerful, and the awful, but our larger point is this: the names on our buildings ought to reflect not just our shared professed values but also the diversity of the people who make this a fine institution,” Weineck said. “The university should forthwith appoint a committee rethinking our nomenclature. It is well past time that we have buildings named after women such as Mary Frances Berry or Niara Sudarkasa. East and West Hall are right there for the taking, and we should not sell their name to the highest bidder.”
The University’s chapter of College Republicans has also reacted to the criticism against Weiser and NoRon’s mock inauguration on Twitter. GOP Vice Chair Meshawn Maddock responded to Attorney General Dana Nessel’s tweet featuring an image of the new sign saying that the state was spreading “total lies and misinformation” about Weiser.
Daily Staff Reporter Navya Gupta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the name of Silke-Maria Weineck. A previous version of this article did not include the artist of the spray-painted signage and template.