Op-Ed: Open Black Leadership Council's letter to the University of Michigan Community
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
Gamma Delta 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
Pretty Brown Girls Club