Chronicle of what students did at the Univeristy of Michigan in February and
March of 2000. They protested against racism on campus, and our very own
President Bollinger was in charge there too. After reading the articlkes below, many students expressed anger over the Michigan incident, saying "it looks like Bollinger has been practicing his duck for cover strategy of writing dodgy statements for a while..."  2004 and the Struggle Continues....

U-M students end 37-day sit-in at secret society's office

The Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Protesters at the University of Michigan on Monday ended a 37-day sit-in at the office of a secret campus society accused of mocking and misusing American Indian customs and artifacts.

Michigamua, whose members have included former President Gerald Ford and late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy, has offices in the tower of the Michigan Union, decorated like a wigwam.

On Feb. 6, a group of minority students occupied the seventh-floor office atop the tower of the Michigan Union and demanded that Michigamua be expelled.  The protesters said the 98-year-old society had not honored a 1989 promise
to drop the use of "Native American culture and pseudo-culture" from
its rituals.

In addition to the eight students occupying the office, as many as 100 supporters of the Students of Color Coalition slept outside the locked tower door. Others brought in food or did laundry for the protesters.  The protesters left at 3:45 p.m. Monday, university spokesman Joel Seguine said. "They said they felt they had gotten all they could out of being in the tower," he said.

In a news release, the coalition expressed disappointment with the university's response to its complaints. "It has become clear that the university administration, President (Lee) Bollinger and Michigamua have no intentions of honoring the 1989
contract, nor are they willing to adopt the necessary degree of sincerity and honesty that would allow all parties to reach a fair agreement," the statement

The students left after genuine and pseudo-Indian artifacts were removed from the Michigamua office Monday, Seguine said. He said they were taken to the university's Natural History Museum for safekeeping.  Michigamua records were returned to its leaders, he said. The university had said it did not intend to use campus police to end the sit-in.

Statement from Joseph Reilly
February 27, 2000

Response to President Bollinger's February 25th Statement

For the past 21 days the Students of Color Coalition have occupied the Michigan Union Tower in protest of three secret "honorary" societies. Our primary concern has been with one of these societies, Michigamua, because of the racism imbedded in the behavior and practices of their organization.

For the past three decades the Native American community at the University of Michigan has attempted through dialogue, negotiations, and formal complaints with Michigamua, University Administration, and the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, to heal the institutional disease created by Michigamua.

For the past ninety-eight years the University of Michigan has conspired in the destruction of a culture through direct institutional support of and involvement with Michigamua. 

We will no longer allow our culture to be enslaved, raped, and prostituted by Michigamua or by the University of Michigan. We stand together to seek a
positive and just resolution to a disease that has plagued our community for
too many generations.

We have demanded that the University disassociate itself from and sever its unique institutional relationship with Michigamua and the other two secret societies housed in the Michigan Union Tower. Our demands have been met with an inadequate and unacceptable response from University Administration.
We have raised valid concerns of a hostile campus climate created by an organization predicated on the stereotyping and humiliation of a specific
racial group. The University has answered with the formation of a panel
to discuss the issue of student organization office space, but has failed to
confront the underlying reality of direct institutional support of an organization that, despite legal agreeme nts, continues to subscribe to racist and culturally destructive practices and behaviors.

In 1989 a written legal agreement was reached between Michigamua, the University, and a Native American student in which Michigamua acknowledged
the behaviors and practices of their organizations as being offensive to
Native American people. In the contract Michigamua agreed to eliminate
all references to Native American culture, pseudo-culture, and parodies and
extensions thereof. The Office of the President has kept a copy of that
agreement since its signing on November 1 of that year. 

It is unfortunate that, despite repeated attempts by the Native American Student Association and other student organizations and individuals to appeal to administrators for the enforcement of the agreement, the University of Michigan has maintained a position of willful negligence. Just as Michigamua's traditions of exploiting Native American culture and religion has continued into the year 2000, with the exception of several high- level administrators who are members of Michigamua, the trend of careful administrative neutrality has been maintained under the current administration of President Lee C. Bollinger.

In his most recent statement on February 25, our president made no mention of the racial implications inherent within the organization of Michigamua.  Instead he chose to remain hidden behind values of the First Amendment and free speech rights and focus solely on the issue of office space allocation to student groups, a process that is already existent through the Michigan Student Assembly. Of course First Amendment rights are a valuable and important part of the University community, yet are not the rights to live in an academic environment free of negative stereotyping and ethnic intimidation equally important? How can one aspect of the constitution be used to manipulate the intent of the entire document in serving its purpose for providing liberty and justice for all?

We hope that the University of Michigan and President Bollinger will find the courage to confront the issue of institutional racism within this public
university. We cannot leave the tower and allow for this racism to be reincarnated in this public facility under the guise of free speech.  President Bollinger must make the bold stance to protect the rights of Native American people, and act according to not only the proclaimed values of the University but to the intent and purpose of the entire United States Constitution. We are confident that President Bollinger has the wisdom and ability to make such clear decisions and affect positive change in
the interest of guiding this institution in a healthy direction as we enter this new millennium. 

Dear Member of the University Community:

The recent protests about the Michigamua student organization have raised an important issue regarding the University's policy on the allocation of office space to student organizations. Currently, there are three student organizations in the tower of the Michigan Union whose offices are not subject to periodic review and reallocation. There may be other such organizations in other facilities throughout the University. Space allocation is a serious and important question for the University.  Office facilities on our campus are at a premium, and it is important for
us to examine whether space is currently being allocated in a manner that is fair and equitable to all student organizations. Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Royster Harper has recommended and I have agreed to initiate a process to examine our policies and practices on space allocation for student groups with particular attention to the question of under what conditions, if any, a student organization should be entitled to space which is not subject to a periodic assignment process, review and potential reallocation. Interim Vice President Harper will immediately establish a panel comprised of three senior administrators from the Schools and Colleges to examine and make recommendations on this issue. The panel will gather public input in a variety of ways including holding public hearings to solicit student, staff, faculty and community member input. The
panel will work expeditiously and make its recommendations before the end of
the term.  The University will then make a decision about the assignment and 
use of the Michigan Union tower and any other exclusively assigned space that may 
exist. In my view, those decisions must be made in a way that does not penalize any group for its views or beliefs and yet fully considers history and past practices. During the course of this process, the three student groups that currently have offices in the tower have voluntarily agreed to refrain from using them.

The University must create a learning environment where each student
is intellectually engaged and participates fully. This requires a climate of
openness, respect and tolerance. Day in and day out we are actively engaged
in cultivating this climate through activities at every level in the University. For example, I have recentl established a commission, chaired by Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Nancy Cantor, to look broadly at the undergraduate experience. Among other things, the commission will be examining our recruitment and retention of students and faculty, our interdisciplinary programs, including ethnic studies, and other programs that relate to improving the climate on our campus for all students. The Schools and Colleges are also engaged in a variety of creative efforts to improve the learning environment and our students
themselves are working at numerous activities to ensure that their peers feel welcome and that student voices are heard and respected on our campus. Improving
the learning environment for all students is a priority. I am committed to this
goal and will continue to engage in the important conversations that are occurring about the climate here for all members of our community.

Lee C. Bollinger

March 8 2000

Students of Color Fight Racism at Univ. of Mich. with Month-Long Occupation

By Elizabeth Martinez

Since Feb. 6, the Students of Color Coalition (SCC) has occupied the
tower of the University of Michigan Union building to protest ongoing
racist practices on a campus that claims to have a longstanding commitment
to multiculturalism and diversity. These practices affect faculty, student
recruitment and retention, and curriculum. For the SCC, they are symbolized
by a secret society housed in the tower, the Michigamua.

The 100-year old Michigamua has a long history of desecrating or otherwise
mocking Native American culture. Despite a 1989 contract in which it formally pledged to cease such actions, Michigamua has continued its degradation. This includes using for itself the original, native name of the state (Michigamua, meaning Big Lake), giving members "Indian" names, and calling its office "the wigwam." 

Groups of faculty and staff have signed statements of support for the SCC. But U.M. President Lee Bollinger has met only once and inconclusively with the protesters, made misleading statements, reduced the issue to one of "space allocation," and offered no concessions. Recently he said he never would have supported the 1989 agreement if he had been on campus at the time, pointing to the society's First Amendment rights. He has called the SCC action unreasonable yet he yielded in 24 hours to an all-white group that had occupied another building to demand U.M. cease purchasing from sweatshop manufacturers.

As of March 7, students expect police action at any time. Meanwhile, five to 
seven students continue to occupy the tower office. Students of color and supporters have carried out many creative, militant actions to support their demands. In a single day, they took over the microphone at a lecture about to be given by President Bollinger on the First Amendment, and read a statement. Later some 70 SCC members and supporters crowded the lawn of Bollinger's home and held a barbecue, with balloons and signs on display. At a basketball game with UM and Purdue that evening, supporters crowded the court at halftime, holding up a
banner that said STOP RACISM and gave the SCC's unofficial web site address.

The SCC began with a protest at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Symposium; when Henry Louis Gates was to give the keynote address, students took over the microphone and called on the administration to live up to its multicultural commitment. With the occupation, the SCC is demanding that the university cease supporting Michigamua by providing it with exclusive use of space in the tower (other student groups have to apply annually for space).

But SCC concerns reach much farther than that. It has presented a detailed list of problems in every arena of campus life that require action.  One area is the faculty of color. The enrolled undergraduate students of color totaled 26% in 1996 and graduate students of color were 23%. Yet out of 1,305 full professors in 1998, 42 were African American, 68 were Latino, and one was Native American. Just 1% were women of color in 1996. Among the 2,660 tenured or tenure-track instructors, 15% were of color in 1998.  They included 128 Black and 68 Latino teachers. Women of color provided 4% of that category. In the professional schools the ratios are even worse: in the Law School, for example, with 21% students of color in 1996 there was a grand total of 8% tenured or tenure-track faculty of color with 2 two of them black faculty.

As for curriculum, the Ethnic Studies situation is grim. It is not possible to get an M.A. or Ph.D even in the long established African and African American Studies program. In the case of Asian Pacific American, Latino and Native American Studies, each is housed under the American Culture Program and students cannot major in any of those ethnic studies components. Latino Studies has two tenured faculty, each spending only half-time there. The Director is on leave next semester; no arrangements have been made to fill the position.

And so it goes, with many other deficiencies listed. Most have been addressed by previous protests, and remain unresolved. The students need support!

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