Petition condemning campus protests, administrators' statements gains support

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Sunday, November 13, 2016 - 11:50pm

Hundreds of University of Michigan community members signed a petition condemning recent protests and vigils held on campus, as well as statements made by University President Mark Schlissel, over the election of Donald Trump for president.

The petition, signed by over 300 University community members as of Sunday night, were in solidarity with a open #NotMyCampus letter to administrators written by LSA sophomore Amanda Delekta. In the letter, Delekta charged that she has faced bigotry on campus for holding conservative views. Delekta also wrote the University administration has not fostered conversations respectful of all ideologies, according to The Michigan Review.

Delekta did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

In the past week, students have planned several vigils and protests to speak out against Trump’s rhetoric on minorities, for which he has faced heavy criticism from civil rights groups and protesters nationwide, and express fear following his election. During a vigil on Wednesday, Schlissel said, “Ninety percent of you rejected the kind of hate and the fractiousness and the longing for some kind of idealized version of a non-existent yesterday that was expressed during the campaign,” and urged students to continue works of advocacy and activism.

He, along with multiple administrators, have also sent out several emails about the election condemning hateful acts and offering resources to students feeling upset or afraid following the election.

Several of the events on campus, as well as Schlissel’s emails, have also focused on hate crime incidents based on race and gender that have occurred nationwide over the past few days. On Friday in downtown Ann Arbor, a female student was forced to remove her hijab after a man threatened to light her on fire if she didn’t comply. Additionally, another University student reported finding his door vandalized with a swastika and hateful messages.

Along with signatures, the #NotMyCampus petition also includes many personal statements from students who signed, detailing feelings of exclusion due to their conservative viewpoints or disappointment with Schlissel for not fostering what they described as community dialogue inclusive of Republicans on campus.

Engineering freshman Lincoln Merrill wrote that he felt Schlissel expressing support for students who voted for Clinton was unwelcoming and excluding to the viewpoints of students who voted for Trump. Merrill added the University only allows for the freedom of expression for liberal beliefs and oppresses conservative thought.

“I am saddened to see that the University does not support my expression of ideas equally when compared to people who have different opinions,” he wrote.

LSA junior Molly Grant wrote that she has received more verbal attacks and insults this past week than she has in her entire life for her Republican viewpoints, and that she fears for her life walking into her classroom and sharing her viewpoints. She asked the University to provide safety for all students, including conservatives, deeming the protests as “vulgar”.

“I’ve voted in elections where I have come out on the losing side,” Grant wrote. “I didn’t resort to vulgar protest, I didn’t end friendships, and I certainly didn’t inflict harm on the other party.”

LSA sophomore Ashley Calcagno wrote she felt disheartened by the faculty’s negative response to the election, noting a instance when a history professor likened the ascension of Donald Trump to the way Adolf Hitler assumed power. She also wrote that she feels polarized by the extreme biases towards the left side of the political spectrum.

“I expected so much more from the University of Michigan, and thoroughly I am appalled at how University officials made those of us who did indeed support President-Elect Donald Trump feel as though we were people of a deplorable character,” Calcagno said.