The students at The University of Michigan are standing up to campus administrators on matters of diversity and inclusion. According to Mlive.com, the students stood on the steps of Hill Auditorium, giving the university seven days to meet their seven demands on the lack of diversity or “physical actions” will be taken.
The incident occurred shortly after a speech by respected civil rights activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte. The Black Student Union started a movement called Being Black at University of Michigan (#BBUM), demanding that campus administrators improve the quality of life on campus.
Michigan was also the site of the Black Action Movement, which shut down the campus in 1970.
“What brings me here today is not that social action is done,” junior Robert Greenfield, the Black Student Union treasurer told the crowd.
“It’s the unfinished business of the first three fights of the Black Action Movements. I am a single voice in a sea of voices that yearns to get away from the sea of isolation on this campus.”
University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman has released a three-way approach to help deal with the diversity issues on campus.
The group’s seven demands read, by senior Erick Gavin according to Mlive.com are as follows:
We demand that the university give us an equal opportunity to implement change, the change that complete restoration of the BSU purchasing power through an increased budget would obtain.
We demand available housing on central campus for those of lower socio-economic status at a rate that students can afford, to be a part of university life, and not just on the periphery.
We demand an opportunity to congregate and share our experiences in a new Trotter [Multicultural Center] located on central campus.
We demand an opportunity to be educated and to educate about America’s historical treatment and marginalization of colored groups through race and ethnicity requirements throughout all schools and colleges within the university.
We demand the equal opportunity to succeed with emergency scholarships for black students in need of financial support, without the mental anxiety of not being able to focus on and afford the university’s academic life.
We demand increased exposure of all documents within the Bentley (Historical) Library. There should be transparency about the university and its past dealings with race relations.
We demand an increase in black representation on this campus equal to 10 percent.
Currently, African Americans represent just 4.6 percent of the Freshman class at The University of Michigan, down from 6.8 percent in 2008. Many of these students are athletes and the numbers for faculty are even worse.
The university issued this statement in response to the protest:
“Provost Pollack’s message to the University community last Thursday provided an outline of very specific steps. University officials at the highest level share the concerns of our students, faculty and staff. This morning you heard President Coleman reiterate the short-term action the university has taken, and the long-term commitment to continue to talk with students as well as work with them to address their concerns.”