UM faculty stands in solidarity against racist fliers
“We cannot allow hatred to continue on this campus," said Provost Martha Pollack.
Ann Arbor — Hundreds of students and faculty members stood in solidarity Tuesday at the Diag on the University of Michigan campus holding signs that read “spread ideas not hatred.”
The Faculty Stand against Hatred event was initiated after racist posters were discovered at an academic building last week. The rally lasted 15 minutes but many people lingered afterward.
“It was important for us as faculty members to stand up and let our students know that there is no place for hate on this campus,” said event organizer Martha Pollack, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at UM.
“In the 17 years I have been here, this is by far the most hateful message I have seen, but we are going to come together as whole and not allow this to happen again.”
One flier found last week at Haven and Mason halls headed, “Why White Women Shouldn’t Date Black Men,” with another flier with a stop sign in the middle that read “ “Euro-Americans” stop “apologizing,” “living in fear” and “denying your heritage.” The bottom of the flier has the words “Alt Right,” and the words “Be White.”
While Jasmine Smith, of Detroit, was pleased faculty addressed the problem of racism on campus, she said she feels more needs to be done.
“When a few of the students sat down with faculty last week, they were in shock because they were not aware of what some students go through in class, like not being deemed as smart by their peers or listening to racist undertone jokes,” the 21-year-old UM senior said.
“I know people are entitled to free speech, but those fliers were hate speech. I shouldn’t feel not welcome on my college campus.”
UM is not the only Michigan campus experiencing racial tension among students. Last month, racist graffiti was found at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.
Alexandra Stern, a UM professor of reproductive politics, health and justice and social justice, collaborated with faculty members in releasing two statements against hatred.
“A lot of my students were upset because these posters violate safe space on campus. We are committed to diversity and raising awareness and demonstrating equality,” Stern said Tuesday. “The fliers were stereotypical with toxic ideas that are incorrect. It’s important for our faculty to take a stand against hatred.”
Zena Shunner, 20, of Ann Arbor, attended the rally in hopes of bringing the campus together.
“Nothing is really integrated at our school. It’s either blacks over here, Arabs over here and Asians over there. I would like to see the campus more diverse with more cultural inclusiveness,” said Zena, a junior at UM.
“It’s cool to see the faculty came out in support of the students. I feel better knowing they are trying to see what is really going on around campus.”