Would You Be Appalled If. . .

UM

I’m wondering if we might engage a bit of a thought experiment today. Perhaps we could call it, “Would you be appalled if. . .?”

Let’s try it out.

Here we go.

If you learned that a multitude of incidents of plagiarism had taken place at particular university, and no one — not one single person — had been caught, held responsible, or made accountable over the span of four years, would you be appalled?

I’m going to assume that the answer is yes. I imagine that parents, alumni, community members, and perhaps the entire nation would be paying attention and demanding direct action to change this pattern of plagiarism.

Or how about this:

If you learned that a multitude of incidents of vandalism had taken place at particular university, and no one — not one single person — had been caught, held responsible, or made accountable over the span of four years, would you be appalled?

I’m going to assume that the answer is yes. I imagine that parents, alumni, community members, and perhaps the entire nation would be paying attention and demanding direct action to change this pattern of vandalism.

We could probably insert other possibilities. Theft. . . Fraud. . . Arson. . . All appalling.

Well, here is something that is actually true:

A multitude of incidents of racism and white supremacy have taken place at the University of Michigan, and no one — not one person — has been caught, held responsible, or made accountable over the span of four years.

Take that in. . . No one in four years.

Last week, when a Black student asked President Mark Schlissel how many people have been caught, held responsible, or made accountable for acts of racism on or near the campus over the span of four years — acts including discrimination, flyers, graffiti, and direct threats of violence — I heard President Mark Schlissel speak two words with my very own ears:

“No one.”

Yes, there have been investigations, a bias incident reporting process, and in some instances, statements. But they haven’t been strong enough, transparent enough, or most importantly, effective enough. In the end, the outcome is that no one has been caught, held responsible, or made accountable for four years. And this increases the likelihood that all of this will continue and will do so with escalation.

And it is appalling.

Here are just some of the racist incidents from the last year alone, when they especially began to escalate. CW: Very specific, racist threats:

1) Islamophobic chalking is found on the Diag (March 30, 2016)

2) Anti-Black, white supremacy flyers are found at Mason and Haven Halls and throughout the campus (September, 26, 2016)

3) A Faculty petition in response to the flyers is erased and replaced with a reference to the Turner Diaries (October 2, 2016)

4) An additional set of anti-Black, Islamophobic, anti-LGBTQ flyers are found around the campus (October 3, 2016)

5) The Michigan Rock is painted with violent messages that say, “F**** America” and “Kill em all” (November 9, 2016)

6) An additional set of white supremacy flyers are found on campus, this time encouraging white students to report undocumented students (November 14, 2016)

7) Email accounts are hacked with a message that was sent to the all engineering and computer science students, reading, “Hi n*****s, I just wanted to say that I plan to kill all of you. White power! The KKK has returned!!! Heil Trump!!!!” (February 7, 2017; this incident is being investigated by the FBI, but still, no one caught)

8) Anti-Semitic stickers are placed over Black Lives Matter posters around West Hall Arch and CC Little, and Black Lives Matter posters are torn down around campus (April 25, 2017)

9) Racist graffiti is found in the bathroom of the University Biological Station per an email from President Mark Schlissel (August 2017)

10) The Michigan Rock is painted with anti-Latinx messages, including “F**** Latinos,” paired with “MAGA” (September 2, 2017)

11) Black students find the name tags on their doors defaced with the word N—– in the West Hall dorm (September 17, 2017)

12) A poster is found on campus of Dylan Roof with the messaging, “Free Dylan Roof.” On the same day, an Ann Arbor mural is defaced with the message, “Free Dylan Roof. I hate N—–s” (September 17, 2017)

13) A white man yells a racist epithet at a Black student and physically assaults Black students (September 20, 2017; he was arrested during the incident)

“No one.”
These incidents are both devastating and dangerous to students who simply want to get an education. Instead, students are putting a tremendous amount of energy into protecting themselves. This should not be.
Students are also organizing direct actions to make sustained and lasting change at the University of Michigan.
If you are appalled,
Parents, alumni, community members, and indeed the entire nation,
 
Will you put pressure on the University of Michigan and demand direct action to change this pattern of racism on campus? Will you do so in alignment with the demands that are being put forward by Black students and students of color?

 

2 thoughts on “Would You Be Appalled If. . .

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