With the hate crime reports and white supremacist fliers that have spread throughout campus this year, it is important that we as a university further address how to be a proactive bystander in problematic situations where racist language is spewed and racially charged aggressions are committed.
That being said, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center’s Bystander Intervention and Community Engagement volunteer program works to end sexual misconduct, including, but not limited to, sexual assault, stalking, intimate partner violence and sexual harassment by preventing it from happening. We facilitate workshops and discussions surrounding sexual misconduct and how to be a proactive bystander in situations where sexual misconduct may occur. But bystander intervention does not end with sexual misconduct — it must be present in all situations of injustice.
We are hosting a panel discussion partnered with student organizations representing minority students on Thursday, Dec. 8 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Angell Hall Auditorium A. The purpose of this panel is to address the cases of injustice that have occurred on our campus and across the country. These racist acts have caused students with marginalized identities to feel unsafe and unwelcome on this campus. Many students feel unsafe to the point where they are afraid to go to class, walk around campus and openly express their true identities. How do we as a campus community react and respond to these cases of injustice to ensure the safety of all students on this campus?
The panel discussion will be made up of three main parts. During the first part, we will discuss the experiences of minority students and their feelings toward the current campus climate. For the second part, we will discuss the changes minority students want to see and how bystanders and allies can step in during moments of injustice. Lastly, we will allow audience members to pose questions to the panel.
There have already been protests, vigils and rallies addressing these issues, which have all been incredibly successful in mobilizing and empowering marginalized individuals and joining allies to our cause. Now it is time to take the next step and discuss what needs to be done. There have been panel discussions led by faculty and staff, but it is important to have a discussion from the student perspective.
The discussion is not intended to be a political debate or a time for audience members to challenge the experiences of panel members. It is a space to raise the voices of marginalized students, listen to their experiences and reflect on what we as a campus community need to do to protect marginalized groups from further injustices here on campus. The final segment at the end of the discussion is designed so that audience members may have an opportunity to ask for insight on topics that may not have been brought up, all while keeping the focus on panel members.
This event is open to all faculty, students and staff, University of Michigan-affiliated or not.
Discussion questions and topics as well as comments or feedback can be submitted through this Google form.
Jasmine Rubio and Nick Suarez are LSA seniors and SAPAC-BICE volunteers.