On Wednesday night, a small group of University of Michigan students were at The Diag, an area on the main square of campus. They weren’t protesting and they weren’t handing out petitions. They were on their hands and knees scrubbing away chalk graffiti with Anti-Islamic messaging on the same night that other UM students were rewarded for bringing attention to the rise of Islamophobia.
At some time on Wednesday afternoon, a group of unknown persons had scrawled phrases like “Stop Islam” “Trump 2016 ” and “Build The Wall” on the busiest sidewalk on campus.
Chalk Graffiti On Campus
Chalk graffiti has been on the rise on college campuses lately. Schools like Emory and Kansas have recently been in the news for students’ reactions to seeing #Trump2016 scrawled on the pavement.
Without getting into politics too much, we see absolutely nothing wrong with supporting a politician–especially on a college campus where ideas are supposed to exist. Much to his credit, Emory President James Wagner recently chalked his own pro-free speech message on Emory’s quad after some students expressed their “fear” at seeing “Trump 2016” written in big lettering.
Hopefully we don’t have to explain the difference between what was written at Emory and Michigan, but one is positive and the other is hateful. And if an institution is going to promote the exchange of ideas, it’s important that the school differentiate between the two.
University of Michigan’s Response
Here’s how University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel responded:
“Attacks directed toward any individual or group within our community, based on a belief or characteristic, are inconsistent with the university’s values of respect, civility and equality. These are core values and guiding principles that will help us as we strive to live up to our highest ideals.
We all understand that where speech is free it will sometimes wound.
But our message is this: We are fully committed to fostering an environment that is welcoming and inclusive of everyone.
Tonight we are reminded there is much work yet to be done.”
But not everyone was so positive about the future of Michigan. Rackham student Banen Al-Sheemary had this to say:
This is so reflective of our student campus and the depths of racism and the things that students of color have to endure and that the administration is continuously silent on,” Al-Sheemary said. “This is just another example. This is happening year after year and we’ve been telling the administration the same things over and over again.