Anthropology Prof. Melvin Williams resigned from the University’s Board for Student Publications last week, citing “a history of discrimination” on the board.

In a letter to the board dated Dec. 7, Williams, who is black, claimed he had been marginalized because of his race by the other board members. He said the board failed to send him a card when his wife of 47 years died in 2005 – something he said wouldn’t have happened to any other member. He also faulted the board for electing two members as chairs who he said had less experience than him.

Williams wrote that these were part of what he deemed indignities.

“They reflect a continuing pattern of behavior that is not seriously addressed by management or the board,” he wrote. “When these patterns are addressed they meet stern resistance.”

The board, which oversees the long-term budget of The Michigan Daily, the Michiganensian yearbook and the Gargoyle humor magazine, has no control over the editorial decisions of any of the three.

Jim Reische, one of the board’s co-chairs, said Williams’s resignation came as a complete surprise.

“None of us had any signs that Mel was dissatisfied with his position on the board,” Reische said.

Reische said he has not encountered any complaints of discrimination during his three years on the board but said he is concerned about its lack diversity – something he said the board is working to address.

In a second e-mail sent to board members on Dec. 7, Williams said the board should examine what he called an attack on Daily Business Manager Alexis Floyd. At the Dec. 4 meeting, board member Mark Bealafeld questioned Floyd over budget issues. In his e-mail, Williams implied that this was because Floyd is black. He said Daily Editor in Chief Donn Fresard went unscathed. Williams implied that this was because Fresard is white.

“This attack went on approximately 20 minutes while the white male editor went untouched – even when he had the audacity to request increases in funds during a discussion of his deficits,” Williams wrote in the second e-mail, which was a response to a request from Reische to discuss the issues surrounding Williams’s resignation, which he declined.

Williams could not be reached for comment yesterday.

According to several meeting attendees, the board had plenty of criticism for Fresard as well.

“Our collective impressions was that if anything we were much harder on Donn,” Reische said. “Anyone who would say we weren’t being hard on Donn wasn’t paying attention.”

Floyd said that while she couldn’t be sure of Bealafeld’s motives, she didn’t think the scrutiny she received was racially motivated. She said her race has never made her feel uncomfortable working with the board.

“Being business manager and working with the board, I’ve never felt discriminated against,” Floyd said.

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