Following Eastern Michigan University’s Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards issuing 16 additional student sanctions, more than 100 students protested through the Student Center Jan. 24 carrying a large sign that read, “Eastern Michigan University's president is a racist."
The sanctions follow several prior student sanctions that stem from the night of the student-led sit-in that took place in the Student Center in early November. The sit-in was one of several student-organized protests that followed four incidents of racist vandalism targeting the African American community on EMU’s campus throughout last semester, beginning in September.
“EMU, you had two options: charge the students, or not to charge them, and this is what they decided,” said Emerald Cox. She then shouted to the crowd, “Drop the charges,” and they responded, “Drop the charges.”
In response to the accusation of EMU’s president being labeled as a racist, Geoffrey Larcom, Executive Director of Media Relations said “President Smith shares the students' anger and frustration over the racist vandalism. Faculty, staff, we’ve all been attacked, this university has been attacked and President Smith shares that frustration.”
EMU has held on to the standpoint that dropping the charges is not an option. In early December, Calvin Phillips, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, said that the sanctions would continue because violations of Student Conduct occurred, and granting pardons creates risk of a slippery slope.
“The student conduct process is a process that is administered by faculty and staff. The president can’t interfere with it,” said Larcom. “It is important to keep the president separate from that process in order to be fair and impartial.”
Throughout the protest many student yelled, “F*** the process!” In response to the continued sanctions student leaders in the Black Student Union and NAACP have stated that the protest will continue indefinitely.
“I’m angry that students are being personally victimized for something that they stood up for,” said Tequiera Barrett. She then shouted, “No Justice,” and the crowd responded, “No peace.”
“EMU’s president has made every effort and will continue to make every effort to show respect for the students and their right to peacefully protest,” said Larcom.
None of the initial students sanctioned have been suspended following their conduct hearing. In the most recent conclusion, the Student Conduct and Community Standards judicial board decided to issue a formal reprimand as punishment for a student connected with being among the leaders of the sit-in.
“This is a university issue not just a black issue,” said Jasmine Gilbert. She then shouted “United we stand,” and the crowd responded, “Divided we fall.”