EMU President and Provost Address Racial Slurs
President Smith and Provost Rhonda Longworth both recognize the aftermath of the multiple incidents of hate speech as an immediate need for students. However, since September when the first incident occurred students have actively voiced their belief that enough isn't being done, and following the Ford Hall incident students sentiments have continued.
“I'm angry and exhausted. They haven’t done anything, and they aren’t going to do anything,” said Michael Wood, an emu student, in reference to the decision makers at EMU.
Following the overnight occupation of the Student Center at Eastern Michigan University, University President James Smith stated that no legal charges have been filed against the students, and wouldn’t comment on if legal charges will eventually be filed. The University has begun pursuing violations of student conduct against several students involved.
According to black student leaders the purpose of the demonstration was to create awareness that leads to actual remedies because of the racially motivated hate speech and the sequential feeling of being unsafe.
"I do not feel safe on campus seeing that the individual who did these foolish acts was able to threaten a whole body of students and there has been no evidence to find them and get justice," said Amber White, EMU student.
To better security EMU has been working to improve campus surveillance. There number of cameras on campus has increased to nearly 800, and the newest action of administration is the creation of the President’s Commission of Diversity and Inclusion.
The Commission will begin operating when the President gets enough vetted applicants to fill the positions. The commission will have either 11 or 13 members, including faculty, administration, students and other members of the community.
“The goal of the commission is to increase the campus wide tolerance message, acceptance message, and the integration of thought message,” said President Smith.
The first focus of Provost Longworth has been the services that students need. Following the recent Ford Hall incident and the King Hall incident that occurred in late September Provost Longworth sent out a request asking all instructors to find ways to support students in anyway that they can. Her goal is not to shift responsibility to the students, but to find a balance between providing for students while also giving power to students because they have been most affected.
President Smith believes that the newly forming commission will serve as a good place to facilitate joint leadership.
“This is a horrible experience for students because in a sense they have been told that their environment isn’t safe, and we need to consider that for what it is,” said Rhonda Longworth, Provost and Executive Vice President of Academics and Student Affairs.
“This affects our community very negatively because I don’t think it reflects the substantial majority of how all of this campus feels about the way that our environment is currently and the way that it needs to be. That kind of representation is absolutely unacceptable here,”said Provost Longworth.
Provost Longworth feels the idea presented by students to start a campaign that pushes a message of diversity and inclusion is a good idea.
“It would be a really good idea to demonstrate even if you aren’t apart of the group targeted in this particular incident you have a responsibility to be a part of the solution, and it can make other people understand the values that we all agree to if we are going to be apart of this community to succeed here,” she said.
President Smith also supports the idea of a campus wide campaign and requested that the commission hear the students suggestion as one of their first actions. EMU Center for Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Community and Involvement also supported the idea of a campaign.
“Do I think we are doing better? Yes. Do I think there is more to do? Yes,” said President Smith.
The $5,000 reward for the previous incident at King Hall has been increased to $10,000 and applies to information leading to an arrest in Ford Hall incident as well.
To contact EMU Department of Public Safety call 734-487-1222, and to reach their tip line call 734-487-4847.