Several racially charged fliers were found in buildings in the heart of the University of Michigan’s campus in Ann Arbor on Monday, causing outrage among students after images were shared on social media.
Another lengthy flier advised white women not to date black men, with lines such as, “Your kids probably wouldn’t be smart.”
Michigan was one of many campuses to start the school year with images and messages that offended many, at a time when racial tensions are high across the country with protests over race and police violence. At the University of North Dakota, four women apparently posted a photo of themselves in blackface with the caption, “Black Lives Matter.” At Eastern Michigan University last week, a professor found the wall of a building on campus spray-painted with “KKK” and a racial slur. And a racial slur and image at Kansas State University earlier this month went viral.
At Michigan, one of the leading public universities in the country, President Mark Schlissel and other administration officials issued a statement calling the fliers racist and saying they were “not consistent with U-M values”:
Early this morning, a member of our University of Michigan community found and removed several fliers in Haven and Mason halls, in the heart of central campus, that espouse a racist point of view.Messages of racial, ethnic or religious discrimination have no place at the University of Michigan. Targeted attacks against groups of people serve only to tear apart our university community.While we continue to defend any individual’s right to free speech on our campus, these types of attacks directed toward any individual or group, based on a belief or characteristic, are inconsistent with the university’s values of respect, civility and equality. We also have a responsibility to create a learning environment that is free of harassment. These are core values and guiding principles that will help us as we strive to live up to our highest ideals.In this time of heightened political strife, we believe these values take on even more importance as people and beliefs are targets of divisive rhetoric. But amidst these challenging times, our core values can help ground our community.
The message advised people to report incidents to the university’s bias response team and closed with, “We stand together against hate and we all must work together toward deeper understanding.”
Leaders of the Black Student Union and the university’s NAACP chapter did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.
Andrew Martin, dean of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts, posted a statement Monday, which read, in part:
We stand with University President Mark Schlissel and University leaders in condemning the racist posters and flyers spread on campus today. We stand in solidarity, especially, with our students who feel under threat, frustrated, demoralized, angry, and saddened.These posters advocating white supremacy strike at the very heart and soul of the College. Their presence marred our physical spaces — in Haven and Mason halls — where we hold our classes and where our faculty and staff work, and are an assault on everything we believe in as a liberal arts college and as a diverse community.The Central Student Government has already called for solidarity with students at EMU who experienced similar racist graffiti on their campus. We also need to be in solidarity with each other, recognizing the importance of supporting anti-racist education and activism.In the days to come we will work with others who wish to organize a further response, with teach-ins, conversations, and other avenues of mutual support.
At the football game on Saturday, some Michigan players raised their fists during the national anthem, echoing protests across the country by athletes against police violence and other issues.
The Central Student Government issued a statement Monday evening:
The University of Michigan prides itself on being the “Leaders and Best.” Today, however, that mantra felt especially hollow, as our University community awoke to find racist posters in several locations across campus.
As a result, Black students at this university are hurting— and this must matter to all of us. From a planned debate that devalues the #BlackLivesMatter movement to the overt racism of the aforementioned posters, we are forced once again to confront bigotry here at Michigan.
Early Friday evening, we released a statement in which we challenged students to be allies
through their actions. If we truly are the “Leaders and Best,” then we must work to ensure that every student feels welcomed, safe, and valued at Michigan. Until we do so, we cannot honestly describe ourselves as such.
Let us start by affirming that #BlackLivesMatter — today and every day.
Central Student Government