Demajae Muray – with his 2-year-old son -- sat in front of the Eastern Michigan University Student Conduct and Community Standard’s judicial board, Tuesday, Jan. 17, to discuss “relative information concerning violations of the Student Conduct Code.
Muray is one of the four original students sanctioned for protesting racial graffiti around campus during the 2016 fall semester. The Student Conduct Code violations occurred during a protest at the Student Center where students occupied the building after hours, Nov. 2.
The judicial board was composed of faculty and staff including: Perry Francis, professor and board chair, Kevin Wilson, staff member; Nancy Bryk, faculty; Michael Barnes, faculty and Joshua Morgan, staff member.
The proceedings began with a summary of the police report from the Student Center protest. “It was reported that Demajae Muray began chanting and yelling outside of the Tower’s Residential Community. The report further states that he occupied a portion of the Student Center and incited others to occupy the Student Center after the building closed for normal operation.”
According to the police report, Muray violated the following sections of the Student Conduct Code:
Section E: Disruptive Conduct - 1: Actions that impair, interfere with, or obstruct the normal operations of the University and/or interfere with the rights of other members of the University community or visitors. This includes intentional occupation of or blocking the entry or exit of University facilities, including but not limited to, buildings, classrooms, offices, hallways, entryways, conference rooms and campus grounds.
Section G: Failure to Comply - 1: Failure to comply with a lawful order of a University official, including a campus police officer, in the performance of his/her duty.
Section O: Property/Facilities/Services - 8: Violation of any policy or guidelines pertaining to specific usage of a University facility.
Section R: Other Violations - 1: Aiding and abetting another in any violation of laws and/or University policies.
Before the judicial board asked Muray questions, he made an opening statement saying he disagreed with the violations the university filed against him.
“As an African-American student, I was saddened by what was written on the walls and I was angered by nothing being done. I saw that the university decided to put their money, resources and time into continually coming after the students,” Muray said.
“I find it hypocritical of us [the university] to celebrate MLK day when I was following in the same footsteps of my fraternity brother,” he continued.
Muray explained that during the Student Center protest, nothing was damaged and most of the students peacefully did homework – similar to Martin Luther King Jr.
“For Eastern to pride themselves on celebrating MLK day, they are going against themselves by sending out sanctions because I was doing the same thing that Martin Luther King was doing,” Muray said.
“Martin Luther King always stood his ground – and I was doing the same thing,” he continued.
During the hearing, Muray answered the judicial board member’s questions about the night of the Student Center protest, prior protests and his reasoning for participating in the protests.
“I was showing that person [who wrote the racial graffiti] that I wasn’t going anywhere. I’m staying here. This is my campus and this is my Student Center,” said Muray.
Muray admitted, from a definition standpoint that the charges are accurate, but disagreed with them on principle because that “wasn’t the message [the protests] were trying to put out.”
Muray concluded the hearing with a comparison between the protests he has been involved in and the rallies organized by EMU student and winner of the MLK Student Humanitarian Scholarship, Desmine Robinson – both aimed at resolving the racial graffiti incidents.
“His rallies were fine, but our protests were bad. The university sees us as a whole different thing when we are doing the same thing as him – just voicing our opinion,” said Muray.
The judicial board - based on the police records and the hearing – will decide if Muray is responsible for the charges leveled against him. The board will then decide to either continue with the original sanction of a deferred suspension with reflection essay or can chose to increase or decrease the sanction.
If the board decides to continue with the original deferred suspension, Muray would continue as an EMU student and attend class. The suspension would be lifted as soon as a reflection letter based on the Student Center protest is written and approved by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.
After the hearing, Muray was greeted by over 50 students who came to show support. “This is love,” said Muray.
The students waiting outside the hearing voiced their concerns about not being allowed inside the room during the hearing. Even though Muray opted for an open meeting – only six people were allowed in the room during the hearing.
Eric Ward, Student Conduct and Community Standards Program Coordinator, explained the same room has been used for the hearings for years and the office wanted to keep things equal for all students.
Addressing the crowd of students, Muray said he refuses to write a reflection letter because that would show the university that he was accepting their actions and accepting racism.
“I took a stand and I will continue to take that stand, just like my brother Martin Luther King Jr. did,” said Murray.