Join Us

With joy, these words are still ringing in my mind and heart. . .

“If you’re with us… Join us!”

“If you’re with us… Join us!”

“If you’re with us… Join us!”

Students chanted those words yesterday when they entered the Michigan Union. With just a couple days notice, Students4Justice organized a sit-in in the Union to respond to a growing number of incidents of racist violence and intimidation at the university. Most recently this week, students from Computer Science and Engineering received anti-Black and anti-Semitic emails with violent epithets and death threats, and a reflection room was defiled when someone urinated on a prayer rug. All of this is utterly shameful.

It’s also dangerous. These students want the administration of the university to take greater action to protect them and carve  out a healthy learning environment.

Hundreds of students participated in the sit-in which lasted until 2 am. And I’ll never forget that moment when we first walked into the Union together. We revisited a chant from the Student Walkout in November, also led by Students4Justice:

“If you’re with us… Join us!”

The events that made this sit-in necessary are serious and hard, yet when we chanted these words continuously, I had an enormous smile on my face. I knew I was watching something special unfold. That chant seemed very fitting. 

While the sit-in stood firmly and fiercely against certain things — white supremacy, Islamophobia, violence, and intimidation — from beginning to end, students also demonstrated what they are for.

The are for each other.

They are for another way of relating.

They are for another way of protecting.

They protected each other last night and put it on stunning display. They didn’t merely say there is another way. They made another way happen. From beginning to end, it was obvious. You could see and feel it present. 

When I came home, I read a number Facebook updates from students who have truly had a difficult time at this university over the years. They shared the impact of this event – that they felt welcome, protected, and valued. Some felt that in thr university space more strongly than they ever have before. And they knew they made that happen. 

They did. The administration didn’t make that happen. They did.

And now the administration needs to follow their lead:

“If you’re with us… Join us!”

Those words ring in my ears and heart. As a friend and chaplain at this university, I can’t begin to tell you how much I have learned and grown in the presence of these students in the spaces they continuously create. Their passions, visions, and expressions of community care and justice are phenomenal.

We can step into that way of living if we turn against the most sinister forces among us and within us and begin to see human worth and value for what it is – worth proclaiming, worth protecting.

Are you with us?

Join us.

Renee Roederer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s