EMU investigates a "red face" party held off campus April 11
Eastern Michigan University is investigating a party held April 11 at a house on N. Hamilton St. According to Nathan Phillips, a member of the Native American community, some of the 30 students were dressed up as Native Americans.
Phillips spoke with some of students and called the police.
“It’s the craziest thing,” Phillips said. “They said were having an impregnation party.”
Phillips said he was walking past the party when one of the students called him over. He said he asked the students what they were doing and one student responded that they were “honoring Indians.”
He said one of the students repeatedly offered him a beer and after he refused it, the student threw it at him underhanded and it hit him in the chest.
Phillips said after he told the students the way they were acting was racist, they started yelling at him to “go back to the reservation” and they were the “f-ing Hurons.”
EMU changed its mascot from the Hurons to the Eagles in 1991, according to the Ann Arbor News.
“I’m a little disappointed in the education system that the students aren't educated to the real history of Native Americans,” Phillips said.
EMU’s Native American Student organization responded to the incident.
“Well, to say the least, we were all extraordinarily angry about it,” said Michelle Lietz, graduate literature student and vice president of NASO. “I mean, people should know better by now."
Lietz said this is a problem of misrepresentation of the Native American community.
“Representing us in this way contributes to people thinking about us as extinct, as not actually being around,” Lietz said. “It’s dehumanizing for us and it’s hard to deal with because it contributes to daily micro aggressions of people questioning our validity as people, you know?”
EMU administration responded to the concerns of Native American students by inviting them to the Students of Color Advisory Board meeting, held April 15.
Lietz said she requested at the meeting that EMU provost Kim Schatzel make a public comment about behaviors like those of the students at the party.
“While she said she was concerned and in our corner, she also said that change takes time and made no promise of immediate action,” Lietz said.
Lietz said it seems like administration has responded to this issue “pretty quickly and with concern.”
“The dream would be that they would start taking issues of misrepresentation more seriously and actually doing something about it instead of just saying that it’s a misunderstanding or its people’s ignorance,” she said.
Lietz said the Department of Public Safety has met with NASO about the DPS investigation of the incident.
She said they were “very forthcoming about all of the information that they had and were they were going and how they plan to deal with it and assured us that there would be consequences for the people involved.”
A request for an interview with DPS was referred to Geoff Larcom, executive director of media relations.
In an e-mail to students, faculty and staff, Larcom said the investigation is ongoing.
“Eastern Michigan University takes these matters very seriously and remains strongly committed to maintaining a respectful, inclusive and safe environment, in which acts that seek to inflict physical, psychological or emotional harm on specific demographic groups will not be tolerated,” Larcom said in the e-mail.