On Edge: Tristan Jacob

Monday, October 23, 2017 - 5:29pm

A few weeks ago, Michigan in Color had the chance to profile three students — LSA sophomore Tyrice Grice Jr., LSA freshman Cydney Gardener-Brown and LSA freshman Amen Al-Moamen — about their reactions and responses to the tense campus climate fueled by racist incidents over the past month and a half. Surprisingly, we found remarkable similarities differences between their accounts. While the published piece only included the accounts of the three underclassmen listed above, we interviewed others in an attempt to get a holistic view of the campus.

One of the students we spoke with was LSA junior Tristan Jacob, a midfielder on the University of Michigan men’s soccer team. Although his responses to the questions didn’t make it into the final draft, we felt that his answers still offer a necessary addition to our campus dialogue.

How would you describe the campus climate right now?

In the past couple of weeks, we, as a university community, have seen recurring events of racism that have negatively impacted the campus climate. It’s unfortunate that we still have to deal with these issues, not only on campus but in the country, and hopefully, we can heal and move forward together. There have been some great campus leaders that have pushed the conversation forward and I believe that the first step is being able to talk about the state of our community.

What could the University do to improve the campus climate? In the past and today, I think there are a lot of voices that need to be heard. A lot of people are feeling hurt and I think that things won’t improve until people feel like they can tell the story and action will be taken to improve any issues that we may have as a campus community. By listening to the student body and allowing for more direct contact with top-level administration officials, I feel like a productive conversation can be had that will lead to understanding, compassion and progress.

What do you think the University has done right?

The University has given me so much opportunity on and off the soccer field, which I am especially grateful for. I know Michigan is trying to improve every year to make for a more diverse, equal and inclusive campus.

Do you feel you’ve been supported this past week?

I have a great support network of family, friends and teammates. I’m very fortunate and thankful to be surrounded by great people, but not everyone on campus has the same support.

How do you think this compares to other social movements?

The civil rights movement of the 1960s was a monumental and necessary change for this country. I don’t think I can articulate eloquently and accurately enough to do a comparison justice. Out of respect for the leaders of that movement, who I admire greatly, and those who marched and died for the rights that I am afforded today, I won’t specifically touch on it. However, it has become evident through campus incidents and other issues that plague our nation that more progress needs to be made. Some of the issues that I think many people thought were solved in the 1960s persist to this day. We need to be compassionate enough to understand that some Americans do not feel as though they are being treated fairly and justly and move forward together to mend the divisions in this nation.