The University of Michigan’s Central Student Government officially launched its new “It Starts With Me” initiative Tuesday to bring issues around discrimination on campus into the spotlight.
CSG Vice President Micah Griggs, an LSA senior, is leading the campaign, which will last through the academic year.
The initiative was initially kicked off this past Tuesday during CSG Diag Day. Griggs said the campaign originally stemmed from the anti-Black, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ posters seen around campus several weeks ago but has since taken a proactive approach to raising awareness about these issues in the campus community.
CSG members are launching the “It Starts With Me” campaign by reaching out to student organizations on campus to sign its banner. According to Griggs, the banner, symbolizing solidarity for the cause, was first revealed at the Diag day but will now be circulating each week to a different student organization.
“We really just wanted to call in students to be an ally through their actions, and it can just be something symbolic like signing a poster but also to bring awareness to these issues,” Griggs said. “Sometimes events on campus occur and students just brush them under the rug or they forget about it, but communities are hurting.”
CSG Communications Director Joe Shea, a Public Policy senior, said each student holds an individual responsibility as a part of the University community.
“It’s an introspective thing — it starts with you, it starts with me, personally,” Shea said. “In order to change on-campus apathy, we need to do it on an individual level, and once we get there, we are excited to build on that.”
In addition to signing the banner, Griggs said the campaign will pass out blue wristbands displaying “It Starts With Me.” Both the banner and wristbands will allow students to recognize other allies around campus and hold one another responsible to the promise they’ve made toward creating a more inclusive community.
“When events happen on campus, we aren’t always taking a reactive motion to these things,” Griggs said. “So if something else happens, then we’d say, ‘Hey students, you signed on to this. You agreed to be an ally,’ ”
One of the units that has already expressed support for the campaign’s cause is the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs. Trey Boynton, the director of MESA, addressed the general assembly at CSG’s meeting last Tuesday, promoting the body’s message of a more welcoming environment.
MESA’s core work involves community engagement, leadership development and social justice education. Along with its staff of six, the office partners with other groups on campus to amplify student voices.
In MESA’s mission statement about racial justice work, Boynton said, “We want to transform the student experience by building inclusive spaces and equitable opportunities for all students.”
In addition to MESA, CSG has also reached out to the UM Black Student Union and the Dean of Students Advisory Board to partner with them on the campaign.
“It’s about supporting those groups on campus that do this work,” Griggs said. “So we don’t want to be the driving force always that implements these programs, but we want to support student orgs and departments that already do them just to continue that conversation.”
During the CSG meeting Tuesday, Boynton expressed MESA’s unwavering support for CSG’s initiative, which Griggs has said she hopes to receive from many other student organizations on campus.
“Well done,” Boynton said. “Way to live up to who you want to be. Way to be aspirational in practice. We (MESA) are happy to travel with you as you travel down this road standing and being in solidarity. I am so immensely grateful that I am not alone in this world.”