Op-Ed: Open Black Leadership Council's letter to the University of Michigan Community

Sunday, October 2, 2016 - 6:11pm

To the University of Michigan Community:

In light of recent events, both on and off campus, we are deeply disturbed by the hateful and blatant racism put forth by people who label themselves the alt-right. It troubles us that the individuals of the Black community at the University of Michigan targeted by these posters and flyers are not only being stereotyped by incorrect data, but are also being made to feel unvalued and unwelcomed on the University campus.

We acknowledge the statements and appreciate the actions made by both the University and student activists on campus. We understand the University has not yet found the individual or individuals responsible for this cowardly act. However, we wish to bring attention to the fact that there is an alt-right blog that has used the University’s name in its title. Not only does this blog use phrases such as “harass,” “viscously attack” and “humiliate and destroy,” it also states that there is a potential Alt-Right Club at the University.

While freedom of speech is important, all student organizations are required to adhere to the University’s Nondiscrimination Policy, which includes all online media, like blogs. We call upon the University to fulfill its obligations stated in the “Discrimination and Harassment Policy” and the University’s “Procedural Guidelines for Handling Discrimination and Harassment Complaints.” We request the University enforce its commitment to prevent and eliminate impermissible discrimination and harassment of students by conducting a formal investigation of the incident in accordance with the Procedural Guidelines; eliminating both the potential Alt-Right University of Michigan Club and corresponding online blog; monitoring posting walls, boards and other University advertising spaces daily; and formally condemning the alt-right as a hate group. While taking these actions would help in the short term, it is imperative to long-term and sustainable success that all members of the University community, whether they are students or staff, act in a way that is conducive to realizing the vision for “a campus environment where all students, faculty, and staff feel welcomed and valued. ...” as outlined in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan.

In order for this vision to be realized, our responses must transcend written statements and lead to concrete action. The issues and problems surrounding campus climate are too great for a single group to take on alone. As University President Mark Schlissel stated during the Black Student Union meeting on Sept. 29, it is necessary that we work together.

While we desire to solve the issues surrounding campus climate, we recognize that a solution to such a large problem will take time. We need time to heal. We need time to listen to and receive input from all members of the Black community to understand what they need, not just what we think they need. Above all, we need time to not only discuss how we can work together to bring about change, but to also discuss what unity in the Black community looks like outside of tragedy and pain.

Though we are leaders of various Black student organizations, we do not speak for the entire Black community; we speak so the members of the Black community know that their individual voices matter, that their individual lives matter.

The Black Leadership Council at the University of Michigan.

 

Statement Officially Approved By:

African Student Association

Beta Eta Chapter

Black Business Undergraduate Society

Black Undergraduate Law Association

Black Undergraduate Medical Association

InterVarsity Black Student Movement

Black Student Union

Boundless Experience Magazine

Bronze Elegance

Gamma Delta Chapter

H.E.A.D.S.

Enspired

Epsilon Chapter

Michigan Gospel Chorale

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

National Association of Black Accountants at the University of Michigan

National Council of Negro Women at the University of Michigan

National Society of Black Engineers

NOiR

Nu Chapter

Pretty Brown Girls Club

Phi Chapter

Sigma Chapter

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