I woke up Monday shocked by the #UMMockEviction campaign; I was disturbed, confused and upset. But throughout the day I couldn’t figure out what it was about the campaign that really shook me. Yes, I may have felt that the privacy and sense of home for students on our campus was violated, and yes, I may not have agreed with some of the statements the campaign made — but what really struck me was the effect this campaign had on my faith in dialogue at the University. I was demoralized.
In contrast with the violence and conflict that torment the Middle East, we are not engaged in a war on this campus. We have the unique ability — through institutions like the Program on Intergroup Relations and the Office of Student Conflict Resolution — to engage in appropriate and helpful discourse. I believe that on this campus, wherever our students come from, we are able to sit down and personally and genuinely discuss our thoughts about issues. That’s the beauty of being part of a diverse, vibrant and politically active Michigan campus community.
The #UMMockEviction campaign blatantly avoided direct and honest dialogue, choosing to instead force information and an agenda to unknowing and unwilling students. I have many friends who felt deceived by people they are close with who were involved in this campaign. Rather than engaging in aggressive behavior, let’s hear each other out, challenge ourselves, expand our minds and grow as individuals and as a community.
We go to an incredible school. We have a diverse student body with immense opportunities for dialogue beyond most communities outside of a college campus. If we can’t engage in dialogue here, then where can we?
I am a Jewish student, with my own unique perspective about Middle East politics. I know that in the reality of this world, I will have limited, if any, opportunities to hear the viewpoints of Arab and pro-Palestinian peers after I graduate. That’s why I am so hurt. I want to take advantage of the unique opportunity this campus grants us, yet I feel like that door for dialogue and mutual understanding has been shut in my face. Why can’t we — students who came to the University with the intention of learning and growing — talk in a direct and civil way about our personal experiences regarding this highly contentious and complicated issue? I am trying to remain hopeful that there is still space on this campus for that sort of discourse; I know there are students out there who want to talk about this issue. Let’s show people that this polarizing campaign does not represent the majority. Let’s show people that we want to come together. Let’s recognize the privilege we have at this university, with people of differing beliefs. Let’s come together. Let’s show the world that Michigan is not a polarizing place, but rather a place that values understanding, dialogue and community.
Isaac Katz is a Business junior.