UPDATE: Sources close to the University say they have denied the request, pursuant to the school’s non-discrimination policy.
Student activists at the University of Michigan are demanding that school administrators provide them with a racially segregated space in which to organize and conduct social justice work, according to the Michigan Review.
In response to a series of anti-Semitic and racist emails, sent to students through a professor’s hacked email account, the campus group “Students4Justice” issued a series of written demands to UMich’s President, Mark Schlissel. Among them, that he “create a permanent designated space on central campus for Black students and students of color to organize, and do social justice work.”
The school has already earmarked more than $10 million for the construction of a multicultural center serving students of color in the center of the campus. The demand letter, however, specifies that the “designated space” be separate from the center. It serves, they say, a different purpose: It is “solely dedicated to community organizing and social justice work specifically for people of color.”
“We want documentation of past, current and future student activism, and this should be a permanent space that is staffed, and has resources for students to organize and share resources,” the request reads.
According to The Collge Fix, Students4Justice also asked the administration to provide support for “marginalized” students when “oppressive acts” occur on campus, a more comprehensive bias response team (with a more efficient reporting system), and a quota for minority hires among the university’s full-time teaching staff.
They’ve also issued a personal, open letter (presented as a petition on Change.org) to President Schlissel demanding that he pursue classes on race at his own university and attend student protests.
At one point, the letter calls Schlissel, who has routinely spoken out in support of greater equality on Michigan’s campus, “racist” for having referred to the Students4Justice demands as “rude.”
The Michigan Review points out the irony in an organization asking for greater equality and inclusion demanding a racially segregated space from which to conduct activities in pursuit of “social justice” goals. But UMich is far from the first educational institution to struggle with the notion of gender—and race-segregated spaces.
The University of Michigan did not respond to a request for comment, and does not appear to have responded to Students4Justice’s demands.