Eastern Michigan University investigates after racist images were painted over student speech wall

YPSALANTI, Mich.Eastern Michigan University responded and condemned the racist images that were painted over a message on a student address wall in the in-between of campus. The area is designated for barren lecture. recently final week, a Black Greek Letter Organization ( BGLO ) Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc. painted a message on one of the student actor’s line walls to commemorate their new member presentation. EMU ’ s NAACP chapter president MaKayla Stevens said, “ … that same night the message was covered. And there was like tamper spray painted over it deoxyadenosine monophosphate well as words that we could not understand completely by two students who then late posted their artwork on EMU Engage App with is basically a social media for the university. ” Dr. Doris Fields, interim chief diverseness military officer at the university was alerted and said, “ They ( the two students ) apologized immediately after, but the impact was already done. ”


The two students explained that it was a mistake and that they had no theme that it was a Black fraternity ’ south message that they covered. One student posted, in separate, “ We could ’ ve never predicted that a joke would turn into this but I can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate hold yttrium ’ wholly, we deserve it. ” Stevens believes claiming the message was some sort of antic is an apologize. “ Out of all the animals that we have, you guys chose to spray paint monkeys which we know historically have been very aweless towards like the black community in general, ” Stevens said. A police report was made and Dr. Fields is besides looking into it. “ Monday I released a letter from me addressing the students because I want to make certain that students feel dependable, ” said Fields. She ’ south monitored the posts in the Engage app, met with the two students a well as the brotherhood. She plans to meet with the campus NAACP chapter next week. Stevens ’ concern is there is a pattern with racist incidents and the university not taking carry through.


“ There ’ s been an event every single year since the year of 2016. We have not gotten anything done since. Every event has been swept under the rug. It ’ sulfur pretty popular on social media for about a week, a week and a half and then cipher says anything, ” said Stevens. Fields said this time is different. She has worked as a professor at EMU for about 30 years but recently assumed the role of interim foreman diverseness officer. “ We never had a headman diversity officer before. So I am here. And I want to make the students know that I am their advocate and that I will keep them dependable and I will address these issues at all times, ” Fields said. Below is the email Fields sent out Monday: beloved EMU Community, I write to you today to address racist comments and images recently painted on EMU Student Government ’ s Student Speech Wall. Racist images on the Student Speech Wall late last workweek, tamper images and racist phrases were spray painted on the Student Speech Wall covering messages previously posted there by african american fraternities and sororities. The racist images and phases were besides shared on the EMU Engage app. Pictures of monkeys and/or statements linking monkeys to african Americans have hanker been considered racist caricatures.

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Eastern Michigan University condemns these hateful images and statements. Racist palaver and actions are wholly counter to the mission, values, and welcoming environment of our campus. Racist stereotypes, phrases, jokes, or other acts of racial insensitivity, discrimination, or prejudice on our campus are not acceptable. I understand and plowshare the range of emotions — anger, frustration, disappointment, fear, sadness — that our african american students, faculty and staff are experiencing at this consequence. It is unmanageable to feel you belong to or are a valued member of a culture when you are devalued by those around you. We must do better. Our campus community must ensure that every scholar has an opportunity for a quality education. We each deserve an environment where we can thrive free from discrimination, racism, and prejudice. Ongoing investigation

I have been in stopping point contact with President Smith, Police Chief Matthew Lige, and other University leaders regarding this matter. We are working jointly to investigate this matter, and we contribution the shock of the campus community. The Department of Public Safety ( DPS ) investigation is placid ongoing. When that investigation is complete, DPS will contribution its report with the Washtenaw County Prosecutor ’ s Office, which has the final examination determination about whether to pursue condemnable charges. together, we will continue to update the campus residential district as more facts emerge.

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The role of the First Amendment An authoritative component of the condemnable probe of these incidents is the first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gives individuals the broad mighty to express their views, including swage or condemnable ones, largely without restriction. The scholar Speech Wall was designed to foster clear construction and negotiation among emu students. It is managed by EMU Student Government, and the purpose of the space is as follows : “ Eastern Michigan University students are encouraged to paint these spaces to communicate approaching events and other public messages. Although students have broad allowance to write messages on the Student Speech Space, Student Government urges all writers to adhere close to Eastern Michigan University ’ s Core Values, namely Excellence, Respect, Inclusiveness, Responsibility, and Integrity. We encourage messages that are positive and informative. ”


clearly, racist manner of speaking painted on the wall does not adhere to these guidelines. unfortunately, the First Amendment may much be used by individuals to avoid accountability for hateful statements and expressions. such lead may not be illegal because it is protected by the First Amendment. It is, however, discrepant with EMU ’ s mission and values, and we condemn it. The University encourages students who write on the Student Speech Space ( including the wall and nearby kiosks ) to communicate information about approaching events and “ messages that are incontrovertible and informative. ” If you plan to paint the wall, we ask that you carefully consider what result you hope to achieve with your statements and message. How will others hear, interpret, and be impacted by them ? Campus communication brings with it the duty to respect peers. racist messages such as those painted death workweek bar and convey to some that they may not be welcome on our campus. They create a culture of fear, division, and hate. People succeed in cultures that confirm, include, and foster a sense of base hit and belong. Each of us is creditworthy for the energy we bring to creating a community that welcomes and fosters the success of people from all backgrounds and experiences.

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Next steps EMU strives to build bridges and an inclusive environment across campus. We are committed to eliminating barriers and improving race relations, and making conscious efforts in building an educational initiation that is accepting of all races, cultures, religions, nationalities, gender identities, and sexual orientations. Understanding that inclusion is an act and serve of continuous improvement and an acceptance of differences, the University will demonstrate our commitment to inclusion body by offering the trace initiatives :

  • The University ’ s Interim Chief Diversity Officer is offering receptive DEI Office Hours throughout the Summer on Wednesdays from 3 p.m.-5 post meridiem ( 101C Boone ) beginning April 27 through the week of August 31. walk-in and schedule Zoom office hours are available for students, faculty, and staff who would like to plowshare their thoughts on the situation and other DEI concerns across the University. ( zoom appointments must be scheduled prior to the meet by emailing chief_diversity_officer @ emich.edu. )
  • We are creating a feedback process that will be open to students, faculty, and staff to make suggestions on the development of a “Student Diversity Training Workshop”. This DEI initiative will be created by students for students, be hosted by the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, and focus on creating the culture we aspire to have on our campus.

  • emu students will besides have the opportunity to participate in the DEI Listening Tour in September 2022 to discuss DEI projects/programs/initiatives, and DEI concerns. Dates and times will be announced as fall semester approaches. If you are interested in participating in any of these initiatives, please contact me at chief_diversity_officer @ emich.edu

ultimately, we can achieve a rightfully inclusive campus community merely if every member of our community is actively participating in the change serve. I hope that you will join me in our efforts to create a more inclusive learn environment for students, staff, and staff — where everyone can thrive academically, feel dependable, and receive a choice education.


Thank you, Dr. Doris Fields Read: More local news coverage

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