Aftershocks of anger over conservative author David Horowitz’ Tuesday, March 19 lecture on campus prompted more than 100 students of various minority students groups and Greek houses to rally in front of the Michigan Union March 20.
Horowitz commented against black slave reparations and described leftist groups as “people who think corporations are the enemies and al-Qaida could be our friend.”
“We are here to show a united front against ignorance. It’s important to show that the kind of ignorant attitude (seen in Horowitz’s lecture) will not be tolerated,” said Engineering senior Adrian Reynolds, president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
LSA junior Brandid Taylor agreed with Reynolds, adding, “This rally is a significant step to let people know that the students of color have allies and that his view is not the only view.”
The rally began at 1 p.m. on the front steps of the Union with an opening speech by Reynolds. Afterward, anyone wishing to speak was invited to talk to the crowd.
“We are here to let everyone know that we are not going to disappear just because you call us niggers. Actually that’s going to make us more in your face,” said Panther McAllister, an LSA graduate, in reference to the racial slurs recently written in Couzens Residence Hall and on the Diag.
Sidney Bailey, an Engineering senior and member of Omega Psi Phi, emphasized the importance of education.
“How many of you have read the books he mentioned? How many of you recognize the people he mentioned last night?” Bailey asked the students.
“The point is you can’t combat something like this unless you are educated. I want to challenge you to read the authors Horowitz mentioned and realize that history can be twisted and torn up. Without education, you can’t say anything about it. Know what you are struggling for. If you don’t, then there is not point of standing out here,” he said.
Among many attendees was Troy Patterson, a 57-year-old Ann Arbor resident who said he recently retired from General Motors.
“I’ve been here all my life and students have always been going through racism and prejudice,” Patterson said. “I am gonna be here with you all.”
Patterson added that unity within the United States is extremely important, especially during the time of war against terrorism and encouraged students of color to unite not just within themselves but with others as well.
“Right now we are weak on the inside. If blacks and whites don’t come together, we will get destroyed within. We need to be united inside to fight terrorism outside,” Patterson said.
Other speakers encouraged students to “keep their heads up high” and to “let the community know that black students have a voice too” by writing to student and local newspapers and by engaging in more discussions with classmates, professors and even those who hold the opposing views.
The rally closed out with a chant “I am black and I am proud! Say it loud!” which was led by RC junior Abdul Lediju, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha.
“They are pacing themselves a little differently to get more out of it or to pursue some different things that they may not have gotten out of it otherwise,” she said.
For others, whose interests are either too wide or varied to be contained, the University offers a Bachelors of General Studies degree.
Students seeking a BGS degree have to follow different requirements to graduate -they don’t have foreign language or distribution requirements and are required to take more upper-level courses. However, the degree gives students time to explore and allows them to take a wider variety of classes.
Some people choose not to receive a BGS because of it’s supposed bad reputation, but Conway-Perrin said employers don’t look down on students who major in general studies, and some even prefer them.
“Career Planning and Placement has done follow-up studies with employers, and they hire or admit BGS degrees at the same rate as everybody else,” she said, adding that success is more dependent on the student than the employer and how the student describes their situation.
“It’s more like, my interests didn’t fit in with the defined majors, so I went and took the initiative to create my own major” than saying I couldn’t choose a major and slacked off, she said.
Whatever students choose to do, there is always another option available if they change their mind, and Conway-Perrin said students should take their time and realize college is not like high school.
“I guess the other thing that we would stress is the transition issues. Students coming in their first year don’t always realize how different it is,” she said. “A lot of students come in, and they are very bright, but they were used to doing well in high school without having to work very hard.”