Students, community members gather at University Rock to paint over racist messages
Correction appended: this article has been edited to correct the organizers and sponsors of this event.
University of Michigan students, faculty and community members gathered Monday afternoon at the University Rock to paint over anti-Latinx and pro-Trump writing that happened over the weekend.
The rock read “F— Latinos” and “MAGA,” short for Make America Great Again, or the slogan of President Donald Trump’s campaign, covering what was originally welcoming messages painted by the newest student cohort of Assisting Latinos to Maximize Achievement.
“I thought this would be sort of taking action as opposed to writing a letter that students know is important, but this would be a different approach,” said David Schoem, director of the Community Scholars Program. “So the idea is to reclaim the rock and the campus for all the students at U of M and drive out, paint away the hate.”
This event was sponsored and organized by the LSA's Dean's Office in collaboration with more than 20 Undergraduate Education units and Assisting Latinos to Maximize Achievement. Students and faculty painted the rock completely white, obscuring any other writing and then painted phrases such as “Latinx belongs,” and the names of other LSA programs in a show of solidarity.
“The message I think we’re writing is we support Latinx students and ALMA,” Schoem said. “We want to set things right before classes start: that we’re all here as a community, every student counts, every student owns this University and we’re going to stand together to make sure that’s the case, that everybody feels this is their University.”
LSA sophomore Noelle Wade, a member of the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, attended the event in a show of solidarity with the Latino community.
“I decided to come out today because social justice is a very big passion of mine and if I can support marginalized students on campus, I will,” Wade said. “(LHSP) decided to come out as a group and show our support for Latinx students on campus.”
Wade included that it’s important to show that the University doesn’t approve of the messages that were previously painted on the rock in order to support students from various backgrounds and ethnicities.
“It sets a happy tone (for this school year) because it shows that a bunch of different people, from a bunch of different walks of life, different ethnicities, can come together and support someone else,” Wade said. “Maybe you aren’t the person it was directed toward, but maybe you know how it feels and you came out and showed support and that shows that the University of Michigan can be a … welcoming environment and a supporting environment.”