Kim Kozlowski, The Detroit News, October 6, 2016
A week after racist fliers emerged on the University of Michigan campus, President Mark Schlissel made a strong public condemnation Wednesday, calling them an “act of terrorism.”
“In a way, these posters, (can be interpreted) as an act of terrorism,” Schlissel said. “The only way to combat that is with support and solidarity … and to move forward with a community of allies.”
“The challenges our students are facing are psychological ones,” Schlissel said. “It’s living in a world where some people are made to believe that they don’t really belong, or that they are different or less-than.
Schlissel has made other strong statements since the Sept. 27 incident, in which racist fliers were found at Haven and Mason halls. One was “Why White Women Shouldn’t Date Black Men,” and another tells “Euro-Americans” to stop “apologizing,” “living in fear” and “denying (their) heritage.” The bottom of the flier included the words “Alt Right,” and “Be White.”
In the wake of the incident, many students have demonstrated. Schlissel invited the campus community to a forum on Sunday to talk about it; he also demonstrated on the Diag with faculty on Tuesday and has tweeted about it, too.
“#Umich allies stepping up and proclaiming that hateful speech and racism have no place amongst the Wolverines,” Schlissel tweeted in a photo where he linked arms with students.
“No one should feel unsafe in our @umich community,” Schlissel said in another tweet. “Help me spread ideas, not hate.”
Schlissel’s comments come the day before the university hosts a summit to release a months-long, multifaceted approach for the university to improve campus diversity. African-American students represented 4.9 percent of the 43,651 students on campus in 2015, according to Rob Sellers, vice provost for equity, inclusion and academic affairs.
However, Schlissel said during his speech that enrollment numbers for 2016-17 were expected in the next week, with an increase in underrepresented minorities, first generation and Pell-eligible students.
“Though we are still not where we want, or need, to be,” Schlissel said.