For many students, a dorm room functions as home away from home, a personal space that is sacred, a place where they should always feel comfortable and safe to come back to. But this week, this space was violated. Three students in the Michigan Community Scholars Program came home to their dorm rooms in West Quad Residence Hall to find racial slurs graffitied on the nametags on their doors. Only one day later, racist graffiti, along with a picture of Dylann Roof — who shot and killed nine members of a predominantly Black church in Charleston, S.C. — were discovered on a mural on East Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor.
These are just two of the horrific instances of racism that we have seen on campus, and there have been a number of other notable instances of publicly displayed racism during and after the 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump. These incidents have only served to create a hostile and unsafe environment for many students on our campus, and as editors of the Opinion Section of The Michigan Daily, we stand against this hatred and racism and we stand with and among everyone affected by these incidents during these times and always.
As administrators, professors and communities across campus are reacting to these events and expressing their solidarity, we felt it was important that we remind those around us that we too stand with those affected. Our section prides itself in being an inclusive space where people feel comfortable expressing their opinions, but as was said in our letter from the Editorial Page Editors, racist, hateful speech is not tolerated in our section, and we condemn the actions of those individuals that made those they targeted feel unsafe on our campus.
As a newspaper, we are an institution that is forever grateful for the rights we have to exercise free speech and the rights afforded to us through freedom of the press. But as Wendy Woods, associate director of MCSP, said in her address during the MCSP solidarity event, incidents such as the racist graffiti on students’ dorm rooms is not an issue of free speech. It is threatening, hateful and plain and simple racism that we cannot allow to masquerade as something protected by the First Amendment.
Anna Polumbo-Levy and Rebecca Tarnopol
Editorial Page Editors
Max Lubell, Madeline Nowicki, Anu Roy-Chaudhury, Steph Trierweiler and Ashley Zhang
Senior Opinion Editors
Correction: This article has been updated. When originally published Sept. 19, 2017, it incorrectly stated that four students’s doors had been vandalized. There were three students whose doors were vandalized.