The University of Michigan Division of Public Safety and Security has opened a criminal investigation into the source of racist and threatening emails sent to University students Tuesday night, and is collaborating with the FBI.
The emails, sent to electrical engineering and computer science undergraduate, contained hateful messages directed at the African-American and Jewish student communities, as well as death threats towards them.
In response to the threats, DPSS increased the number of security patrols around engineering facilities Wednesday on North Campus.
On Wednesday morning, Katrina Daoud, Community Matters project coordinator, sent an email to facilitators of Relationship Remix and Change it Up — two workshops run by the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center and the Office of Student Life — denouncing the racist emails and expressing support for the community. Daoud also included an extensive timeline of the University’s actions following these incidents.
“Community Matters denounces these emails and the messages within them and we want to let you know that we are here for you,” the email reads. “Our door is always open if you need a space to talk, to vent, to cry, or to find happiness. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for whatever support you might need.”
Central Student Government President David Schafer and Vice President Micah Griggs, LSA seniors, also released the detailed email report of the University administration’s actions as well as an additional statement in solidarity with the campus community.
“We are deeply disturbed by the overtly racist, anti-Black, and anti-Semitic emails that have been sent to members of our University of Michigan community,” Schafer and Griggs wrote. “They are reprehensible and have no place on this campus. To our Black and Jewish friends, classmates, and peers: you matter, and you belong here.”
Schafer and Griggs acknowledged the necessity to make students feel welcome on campus, something CSG also did in instances of racially charged postering on campus last semester.
“Let us acknowledge two certainties. One, every student who comes to the University of Michigan deserves the chance to thrive and find a home — to feel safe and secure, respected and valued. Two, an offense against any member of this University is an offense against all. Even if you are not a member of a targeted group, it is still your place, today and everyday, to stand against injustice and fight discrimination.”
Though the emails from Tuesday appeared to be sent by a professor and graduate student of computer science at the University, it was later confirmed that the messages were spoofed.
Shortly after the emails were sent, a group of protesters gathered outside President Mark Schlissel’s house on campus to express their displeasure with the messages, as well as their hope that he would address them appropriately.
“The most important thing you can do right now is stand together and call out this bullshit,” Schlissel told the students early Wednesday morning. “We’ll keep working together on this, because I really do need your help. And I can’t promise you the world’s going to be better tomorrow or next week; I wish I could.”
In a separate incident on Sunday, DPSS reported that a man was witnessed urinating on a prayer rug in a reflection room of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library. Though reflection rooms are open to all students, they are most often used for prayer by Muslim students.
According to the DPSS Crime Log, three individuals were in the reflection room when one urinated on a prayer rug, but the individuals were gone by the time an officer arrived to investigate.
The Undergraduate Library will be replacing the carpeting and the rug in the reflection room. Additionally, the reflection room will be made available only by key access, which is how access is already handled in other reflection rooms.