Students post positive posters following racist incident

Monday, September 18, 2017 - 11:24pm

In response to several recent incidents of racism on the University of Michigan campus and throughout Ann Arbor, students and faculty hung up posters with phrases of solidarity and support for targeted groups Monday night.

"You are loved, valued, and important. Hatred has no place here. The Michigan community stands with you," a poster read.

Sunday morning, three Black students in the Michigan Community Scholars Program discovered racial slurs, including “n-----” written on their dorm room doors. The same day, Ann Arbor community members found the same word painted onto a building near campus, on Liberty Street and State Street, along with “Free Dylann Roof.” Students also tweeted flyers found around campus with Roof’s face.

Diane Brown, spokeswoman for the Division of Public Safety and Security, said DPSS was investigating the incident in West Quad Residence Hall. Brown could not, however, provide an update on the case as of Monday afternoon.

Following the discovery of the most recent writings, MCSP hosted an event Sunday night to provide an opportunity for solidarity with Black students and other students of color. Those who were victims of the writing spoke out, noting a lack of tolerance for this on campus.

One of the individuals whose door was targeted, LSA sophomore Travon Stearns, spoke to the Daily prior to the event about his experience seeing the writing on his door.

“Everybody was, of course, especially in the Black community and even my friends who are not part of the Black community, was pretty outraged and really concerned,” Stearns said. “But they really were there for me and let me know that if I needed any help with support, they’re there was me. They were really upset with what had occurred. Very outraged.”

On Monday night, an ad-hoc group of students and members of the Muslim Students’ Association placed posters around campus posting walls saying “Black Lives Matter.” Other students posted posters saying “F--- White Supremacy.”

Business senior Chelsea Racelis, also a member of the Black-Asian Coalition, said the action was as much about solidarity as it was about informing non-Black students about the incidents.

“We expect hate from hateful people,” she said. “But we expect more from the rest, or those who say they’re non-political. In some classrooms, people act like nothing happened. And you can’t brush this under a mass email or tweet … saying racism doesn’t belong here. Clearly there has been made space here for these people.”    

MCSP Director David Schoem, an adjunct associate professor, helped lead Sunday’s event, noted a sense of unity among the community.

“We feel terrible that in our community they had to experience those disgusting things that were put on their doors, and we want to show our support and love,” he said. “We hope you will feel that we are all here to express that to you.”

Members of the University’s Muslim Students’ Association flyered the pillars surrounding the Diag. MSA Outreach Chair Arwa Gayar, an LSA sophomore, said that when the incident occurred in MCSP the MSA began thinking of ways to immediately act.

“Because we are MSA we are posting it from our perspective, we have a quote from the Quran, it's basically saying a white has no superiority over a Black and a Black has no superiority over a white and the only superiority people have over each other is piety and no one knows how pious someone is,” Gayer said.  “It is ingrained within our religion this idea of equality so it is a part of our mission to that we are doing are part to make sure equality is seen on this campus.”

Racelis noted flyering constitutes just one component of students’ organizing.

“An action like this can’t do anything wrong,” she said. “But it has to be flyering and demanding more of administration and calling out racism and standing in solidarity. It’s all of that.”  

The block ‘M’ in the Diag was also tagged with positive messages following the incident, similarly, with the phrase Black Lives Matter.