A second racial slur was found in the stairwell of Wise Hall while Eastern Michigan University Administration drafted their response to the students challenge for resolutions. Before and after receiving the update from administration the campus community was unsettled from the first and second display of racially targeted hate speech on campus, and hearsay began to spread from residential students outward to the EMU community.
“I was scared when I found the racial slur because I didn’t know what to think. That is 3 incidents in not even 24 hours. First we had graffiti on the wall then I found graffiti in our actual dorm where I reside, and now it’s something happening at Seller Hall that we aren’t being told about,” said Nailah Bush, Fashion Apparel and Design major.
The unknown that Bush was referring to is a false claim of more hate speech being used towards students in the dorm rooms of Sellers Hall. The claim surfaced through student dialog with Resident Advisors (RA) and also with student and RA combined dialog with law enforcement. The claim was investigated by authorities and dismissed. Students heard rumors of the claim 2 hours after receiving the second email update from the President.
EMU President John Smith issued an update addressed to students, faculty and staff less than 24 hours after the assembled body of students of color met with administration. The update sent from the Office of the President was an overall message on cultural sensitivity. In addition it was an update on the case, and the beginning of a plan for the future. A copy of the second update from administration can be found on easternecho.com
Students gathered for the candlelight across from Welch Hall moments after the second update had been issued, and moments before the rumors began to spread. The students present expressed a common thread of resilience and further resolutions. The candlelight was funded by administration, and put together by EMU Student Government, the city of Ypsilanti, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Mayor Amanda Edmonds and several members of city council also came to support and read a letter that delivered a message against cultural insensitivity.
EMU Executive Director of Public Safety Robert Heighes participated in the demonstration and gave an update on the case during the candlelight.
“We have several leads that we are looking at, and as we continue to reach out to the community then more and more information will be coming in. We are aggressively trying to get information from the contacts that we have,” said Chief Heighes.
Students have continued to voice concerns of safety and seeing actual resolutions. Chief Heighes assured them that when authorities know more information the public will also know.
“It’s hitting to close to home. We are use to seeing stuff like this on the news, but we haven’t witnessed anything this bad at Eastern, or in Ypsi within the time I have been here," said Tyler Deal, Health Administration major, "I am not going to forget about this. I am
angry. I am outraged. I am pissed. We should all be pissed."
Students can now submit suggestions through an anonymous electronic form linked on easternecho.com . Faculty administration is working with student administration to promote mental health. Both administration and some representative students of color have agreed that a forum will be held on Oct. 7 to come closer to resolutions.
To contact EMU Public Safety call 911 or 734.487.1222