By Jane R. Elgass
|Approximately 50 students and other
community members gathered on the steps of the Michigan Union Feb. 10 to
show their support for the Students of Color Coalition, some of whose
representatives began occupying tower space in the union Feb. 6. The
early-afternoon rally included remarks by coalition members and the
singing of flag and victory songs by a drum group. 'We're here in the
spirit of supporting the people who are here and everyone in the tower,'
one drummer explained.|
The students occupying the tower were specifically protesting the use of the area by the Michigamua Senior Society, which the coalition says uses Native American artifacts and traditions in an offensive manner.
Posters carried by students included such messages as 'President Bollinger--A Committee Can't Fix These Problems--Support Your Students' and 'The Shadows Now Emerge--Now Is the Time to Fight.'
An American flag and a rainbow-hued drape hung from the window of the tower room occupied by the students, as did a banner proclaiming 'Secret Societies Out' and 'Michigamua No.'
University officials hope to meet with coalition representatives this week for a discussion of concerns they raised in a petition presented to the University Feb. 4. Photo by Rebecca A. Doyle
Representatives of the Students of Color Coalition began occupying space used by three groups collectively called the Tower SocietiesMichigamua Senior Society, Phoenix and the Vulcanson Feb. 6. The students have indicated they will stay in the tower until the University addresses their concerns.
Their move into the tower followed the presentation to University officials on Feb. 4 of a detailed petition that outlined a wide range of concerns, from increased space and funding for minority programs to a request to drop the use of the term African American in all University communications.
The petition asks the University to sever all affiliation with and subsidy of the secret society Michigamua, which continues its offensive and culturally destructive appropriation of Native American culture through the use of its name.
Michigamua, formed in 1902, has been meeting in the tower space since 1919, the year the Union was completed.
Five top administrators met with some students Feb. 10President Lee C. Bollinger, Provost Nancy Cantor, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Royster Harper, Associate Provost Lester Monts and John Matlock, assistant provost and director of the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives.
Bollinger and Cantor hope to arrange a meeting sometime this week with representatives of the coalition that will provide an opportunity for an in-depth discussion of the issues the students have raised.
We want to meet with representatives of the coalition as soon as we can for a thoughtful and thorough discussion, Cantor said.
While the focus of several rallies was the Universitys relationship with Michigamua, the coalition identified other concerns in the petition.
Items the coalition is asking for include:
An immediate and substantial increase in the number of faculty of color who are tenured at this institution, as well as the development of a program intended to accelerate the tenuring process of faculty of color.
An immediate and substantial increase in the number of tenured CAAS faculty.
Formal recognition of the Arab-American community on campus, particularly through the inclusion of Arab-American as a classification within applications to the University of Michigan.
An immediate increase in the number of courses offered within each Ethnic Studies program.
The immediate implementation of Native American Studies, Asian Pacific American Studies and Latino Studies as degree-granting programs within the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
The inclusion of all Ethnic Studies/CAAS courses to fill this requirement.
The provision of records of racial profiling within the Department of Public Safety, with regards to traffic violations, citations of misconduct, et cetera.