Michigan in Color: We condemn The Order of Angell and all other secret societies

Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 9:03pm

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Michigan in Color

This statement reflects the position of the Michigan in Color section of The Michigan Daily, not The Daily as a whole.

Michigan in Color stands in solidarity with the Native American community. We are issuing a formal statement, following in the footsteps of the United Asian American Organizations, La Casa and the Arab Students Association, to condemn The Order of Angell and all other secret societies at the University of Michigan. As a section of The Michigan Daily, we extend this sentiment to any staff at The Michigan Daily who were or are presently a part of these organizations.

The Order of Angell, formerly known as Michigamua, is a secret society at the University that has engaged in racist and exploitative practices. Their past practices have specifically targeted the Native American community by acquiring a large number of stolen artifacts and engaging in mockery of Native American rituals and iconography. While the organization claims it has taken progressive stances in recent years and has moved on from its racist history, we reject the notion that incorporating more leaders of color and modifying appropriate practices remedies the harm they inflicted on the Native American community. Essentially, these transgressions are not pardoned by the Order’s performative actions that have made no contribution to uplift the Native American communtity on campus. It is evident that the Order of Angell actively participates in upholding similar colonial structures on campus with its lack of transparency and elitist composition.

The secrecy surrounding the Order perpetuates a narrative based on social and economic hierarchies and misrepresents diversity as tokenism. Moreover, the existence of secret societies exacerbates the pre-existing social and economic elitism embedded in the University’s foundations and practices which have been present since its inception. Its furtiveness further displaces communities already outside of the considered elite and upholds standards of supremacy. The Order of Angell is just one of many examples of the University repeatedly upholding colonial structures and valorizing racist University figures. For instance, James B. Angell, a former University president after whom the society was named and founded, has a racist history of drafting the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. More recently, in 2001, a Native American faculty member was wongfully terminated after her involvement in the Students of Color Coalition’s occupation of the Michigamua “wigwam” in the Michigan Union. This, in addition to the previously mentioned marginalization of Native Americans, is an affront to the indigenous community as well as other communities of color.  

Lastly, Michigan in Color would like to formally recognize our past involvement and participation in the Order of Angell. We recognize the harm that Michigan in Color has caused by remaining complicit, and we condemn the past participation of individuals who were involved, especially those who held leadership positions. This goes against the constitution and foundation that MiC is founded upon in that MiC "does not exist within a vacuum that is immune to the oppressive systems and identity politics of our campus and beyond." Moving forward, MiC will be following in the footsteps of UAAO, La Casa and ASA in amending our constitution to reflect our rejection of secret societies and ensure that our members, both present and future, understand this. 

Michigan in Color stands in solidarity with the Native American community and any calls to action that they initiate. As the mission of Michigan of Color is to uplift and amplify the perspectives of students of color on campus, we will remain dedicated to dismantling oppressive institutions and structures that inhibit this commitment. 

Maya Goldman, current Editor-in-Chief of The Michigan Daily, is a member of Order of Angell and played no role in this statement.