Daily drops the ball on Trotter House event
To the Daily:
I have to admit that I nearly skipped Monday’s town hall meeting at Trotter House about the recent incident involving students of Asian descent. I’d spilt some coffee on my sweatshirt and, I was afraid I’d look like Pigpen. In the end, I did attend.
I wasn’t disappointed. There was general agreement that the details of the incident were murky. It provided an opportunity to talk about a pattern of quiet racism, though. Students, alumni and faculty had the chance to come together and talk about ways to celebrate diversity and strengthen networks. It was inspiring to see how an ugly incident could mobilize students into positive action.
I’m especially glad I attended, now, because nary a mention of the meeting made it into Tuesday’s Daily.
Don’t get me wrong – topics like the extravagance of grass (The clover’s greener on the other side, 09/27/2005) and the aerodynamics of the Big House (Researchers, students test wind currents in stadium, 09/27/2005) are newsworthy, I guess. I’d like to believe that campus responses to important recent events are also worth noting.
The feeling exists among many that the University turns a blind eye to issues involving Asian-Americans. The Daily’s omission of Monday’s town hall meeting only adds to that impression.
School of Public Health
Fraternity shooting coverage propagates stereotypes of black community
To the Daily:
I am deeply troubled by the article printed on Monday entitled Frat Party Shooting Injures Freshman (09/26/2005). There are some things that admittedly took place – the shooting and the resulting injury to the freshman. The description of the assailant, however, is the most disturbing portion of this article.
There is no secret that race is still a very large part of the culture at the University. The most frequently used word on this campus is “diversity,” though in practice, we fall very short of what this word entails. The administration and organizations have program after program, only to be demolished by articles that pinpoint every black male on this campus as gun-toting thugs, or DO NOT pinpoint the assailants of Asian-American attackers from a delayed story on blatant racism from the previous week.
DPS crime alerts with loosely scripted depictions of “hip-hop, baggy clothes wearing” blacks only further perpetuate the concept of our black citizens being criminals. It is indeed necessary to report on incidents to prevent further attacks, but there is a disproportionate way in which blacks are reported and described for crimes.
The story printed on Monday noted the shooter “as being a 5’9″ black man wearing a white T-shirt and a dark hat.” I’m not denying nor confirming the identity of the shooter as anything other than that. This depiction does, however, give rise to many black men not only on this campus, but in our community. Additionally, nowhere in the article was it mentioned that, more than likely, this person was NOT a student at the University.
Though that does not negate the fact that this person is still at large, there is indeed a bit of relief when you know that this person may not be sitting next to you in class, passing you at night or God forbid, sleeping across from you in your residence hall.
This article also skips the part where an Ann Arbor Police Department riot van was sitting outside of the Michigan Union, several armed police officers were inside the Union and video surveillance took place during a dance-party that Friday night in the Michigan Union Ballroom, several hours before the shooting off campus. There are double standards occurring on this campus all the time. It is upsetting to know that people expect members of our community to act violently, and dehumanizing to see the measures that are in-place “in case” this happens. The efforts taken to protect the students inside of our union were followed, being a guest list and checking student IDs, yet we were treated like suspects all along.
When violence did occur, furthermore, it was at an off-campus house by a nonstudent, though this piece of information was not included. The organizations in our community have been working together to make this a more safe environment for all students, but that can’t happen if nondescriptive articles like this are printed that further divide the campus. I simply want the point known that our community is tired of having the finger pointed at us. We’re not the culprits – we’re students at this University too. We have been disrespected and suspected for too long in this institution, and we will no longer accept it.
The letter writer is the president of the University chapter of the NAACP.
Editor’s Note: A response from Editor in Chief Jason Z. Pesick can be found at his blog, which is accessible from www.michigandaily.com.
Asians face discrimination on a daily basis on campus
To the Daily:
I have been closely following the Daily’s coverage of the racist incident that occurred two weeks ago, and as an member of the Asian Pacific Islander American community on campus, I am concerned that it took an incident of this nature to mobilize the APIA community and its allies to action.
Having said that, a catalyst is sometimes needed, but I feel that the more the Daily and others on campus focus on this particular episode, the more disappointed I am. It is true that there is controversy regarding the exact details of that Thursday evening, and although it is important for the sake of justice that the investigation examines all sides of the story, this has transformed into more than just one evening. Underneath it all, APIAs – and perhaps people in other communities as well – have gotten stuck in this state of complacency. This movement on campus is not solely in reaction to Thursday, but also for every single time APIAs are stopped on the street and complimented on their English, asked if they can show off kung fu moves or my personal favorite, if I am related to Jackie Chan.
The fact that the Daily gets so caught up in the details of this one incident speaks to the insensitivity the Daily has regarding issues of multiculturalism and race in its reporting. Perhaps the Daily should report more on the growing campus response and mobilization, instead of the tiny details of one incident. Unfortunately, some details may not be as important as others; In Suspects dispute hate crime (09/26/2005), Stephanie Kao is misidentified as president of United Asian American Organizations when she actually serves as co-chair. (Editor’s Note: Please see “Corrections,” 09/27/2005.)
Mobilization of the APIA community is not enough to fight the ignorance that prevails everyday. The administration must join us on this journey; issuing an e-mail without any clear timetables or courses of action is not enough. If the administration does not take a strong stance soon, I fear that acts of hate will only be perpetuated, for it sends a message to students that hate is okay.
Therefore, I call on all members of the University – APIAs, University President Mary Sue Coleman and other administrators, the staff of the Daily and members of other communities – to unite with us in this movement. We may not see the fruits of our labor in our time here, but if successful, future Wolverines will feel them for many years to come.