Three students involved in the occupation of the Student Center are being pursued by Eastern Michigan University for violation of student conduct, in response EMU faculty has started an online petition demanding that President James Smith discontinues the persecution of the students involved in the peaceful demonstration and begin to show solidarity.
The first of the three hearings was held Nov. 7 and Faculty Senate President Judith Kullberg, Professor Zachary Moore and several more members of faculty waited outside the closed hearing to show support. Faculty members have voiced that they believe the proceeding are an appalling attempt to victimize and silence the same student being oppressed.
“I am beyond happy to see faculty here supporting students. It is good to know that our professors support us in and out of the classroom,” said Black Student Union President Michael Wood. “I support the petition and will try to get as many students to sign it as possible.”
Many students have signed the petition with their first names or anonymously because students involved in influencing change at EMU have voiced that they feel the genuine goal of the University is to use persecution to silence any opposing student leaders.
“I feel like the University should be on our side rather than trying to go against us. University administrators continue to say they are working with us, but we are voicing our opinions and nothing is changing, instead we are the ones being targeted,” said Morgan Randall, EMU student.
The petition was created by EMU Associate Professor, Dr. Zachary A. Moore. He created the it just before 7 p.m. Sunday evening and it currently has over 600 signatures from EMU affiliates and beyond.
“I have launched a petition targeting President Smith that demands that the administration drop all changes of expulsion against students who have been part of the peaceful protests against racial hatred. Please see below,” said Dr. Zachary A. Moore.
The Office of Student Conduct, Community Standards, and Wellness have alleged that the students violated the following sections of the student conduct code: disruptive conduct, failure to comply, and violations of campus property. The office is also reviewing any prior violations before making a decision.
During the demonstration EMU Public Safety and members of EMU's executive team stated that if students remained inside past the building's hours of operation then there would be legal actions taken and also repercussions for violations of student conduct.
“Threats of arrest, incarceration, and expulsion should always be directed toward the perpetrators of hate, not the targets of hate,” said Moore.
The demonstration that led to the proceedings began Tuesday when just under 100 students stayed inside EMU’s Student Center until after 6 a.m. Students performed poetry, played music, danced, and congregated together the duration of the demonstration. Throughout the evening the students never became violent and there are no reports of property damage.
“We believe that the administration should not take action against students participating in peaceful protests against racism,” said Kullberg.