In 1970, the Black Action Movement won demands to end the racist climate on campus by taking the necessary actions to increase Black student enrollment to 10 percent by 1973 and significantly increase Latino@ student enrollment. For 40 years, our University has broken this promise. This discovery was the foundation for our decision to run with the Defend Affirmative Action Party for Central Student Government as representatives of the new student-led civil rights and immigrant rights movement growing on this campus and across the nation. We know we are not alone in our indignation. Many of you truly believe that as the leaders and best that we claim to be, it’s our duty to end any form of injustice.
Since last fall, minority students — spearheaded by Black and Latin@ students — have been speaking louder and clearer than ever before about the hostile climate they face on this campus.
In growing numbers, women students too are declaring that they are fed up with the extra burdens they face from sexual harassment and abuse. Arab and Muslim students are speaking out loudly and boldly against the racism and prejudice they face on this campus. We’re sick and tired of being talked to death when we demand that the administration do something real to solve problems which have existed and been talked about for decades.
We’re sick and tired of the same methods the administration has used for more than 40 years to avoid really facing up to these problems: pious words, endless committees, token measures falling vastly short of what is needed, a few crumbs to co-opt a few leaders, intimidation of students who speak out and, of course, layers of bureaucracy to perpetuate the cycle of failure and cover-up.
We’re at a crucial time where our decisions will make history. The movement has spoken: to win the promise of 1970 we must lead through actions. In August 1963, in the “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared that there could be no more “business as usual” in America until real racial justice was achieved.
Join us this Thursday, March 20 in putting the University on trial for its broken promises, and deciding on a plan of action to stop business as usual on our campus until we win real justice and make this University what WE want it to be. At the University Board of Regents’ meeting, we will demand the University keep its promises to all its students by doubling minority student enrollment, creating a UM Dream Scholarship to open the doors of this University to undocumented students and ending the policy of cover-up of rape and sexual assault on this campus. Then we will be holding a public tribunal and speak-out on the hostile climate on campus for minority, immigrant and women students.
The tribunal is the next step in the struggle to end business as usual and make the promise of 1970 a reality. All students and organizations are welcome to come speak the plain truth about racism, sexism and injustice on this campus and in American society. No one will be discouraged from speaking out — everyone’s experience is relevant.
Detroit high school students will be among the featured speakers, to keep our campus community anchored in the real world of struggle around us. The tribunal will be chaired by activists, including Shanta Driver, BAMN national chair and attorney, who argued before the U.S. Supreme Court last Oct. 15 for the overturn of the Proposition 2 ban on affirmative action and for the defense of minority political rights.
But we will not limit ourselves to speaking out. On the basis of the testimony of students, we will democratically discuss and vote on the next concrete actions to take in order to make real the long-broken promises of equal access, equal conditions, equal opportunity and equal dignity.
Minority students should no longer have to accept the degradation of unequal treatment and racist slurs as a condition of being present on this campus. Women students should not have to live in constant fear and accept sexist abuse as a condition of getting an education and participation in ordinary campus life. The Regents’ meeting will be Thursday at 3 p.m. in the Anderson room of the Michigan Union, followed by the Public Tribunal on Campus Climate at 7pm in Angell Hall Auditorium C.
Mical Holt is an LSA sophomore and DAAP presidential candidate for CSG. Taylor Jones is an LSA freshman and DAAP vice presidential candidate for CSG.