UMich meets demands of black students who threatened ‘physical action’

Robby Soave | Reporter

After making a list of seven demands and threatening “physical action” if they were not met within one week, a black student organization at the University of Michigan will now have its most expensive wish — a $300,000 renovation of the campus multicultural center — granted by administrators.

And in response, a campus libertarian group has put forward its own demands — making the point that UM is hypocritical in its professed support for diversity.

Members of the Black Student Union met with campus administrators on Friday, and a deal was reached to renovate the Trotter Multicultural Center, according to The Michigan Daily.

BSU had previously complained that the center did not occupy a more central place on campus. It is instead a few blocks northwest of Central Campus.

The renovations will cost about $300,000. Details are still being worked out.

There has been no word yet on whether administrators will also capitulate to the other demands, which include requests for increased funding and modifications to UM’s curriculum that would force students to take more classes about race and ethnicity. (RELATED: Michigan black student union: ‘physical action’ if seven demands not met in one week)

BSU also made several demands — including tuition scholarships for racial minorities and increased minority enrollment — that might be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last spring on Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) — a case related to UM’s affirmative action policies — and is expected to uphold the citizen-enacted ban on race-based admissions in public universities throughout the state of Michigan. (RELATED: Pro-affirmative action side mocked by conservative AND liberal Supremes)

Last week, on Martin Luther King Day, representatives of BSU threatened “physical action” if their demands were not met. What exactly was meant by this was left ambiguous.

When pressed, a BSU spokesperson eventually clarified that nothing violent was intended.

BSU maintains that minority students at UM are marginalized and that special policies must be implemented in response.

UM officials seemed to agree.

“Michigan has a proud history of fighting for social justice, including taking the fight to promote diversity all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court,” wrote UM Provost Martha Pollack in a recent email to campus. “We must honor that legacy and push ourselves to take the lead on issues of equity and diversity along all dimensions, setting the example for public institutions across the country.”

Another campus group, however, claims that UM’s capitulation to BSU’s demands is hypocritical.

“There’s a bit of a hypocrisy being played out in Provost Pollacks letter and, more broadly, the policies of the administration,” Derek Magill, president of UM’s Young Americans for Liberty, told The Daily Caller.

Magill sent a letter to UM President Mary Sue Coleman on Monday claiming that the administration support for diversity is only “skin deep,” since the university has done very little to recruit and accommodate non-liberal student and faculty voices.

“As students at the University of Michigan, we have become keenly aware that there is a general under representation of libertarian and conservative views on campus,” wrote Magill and his co-president, Cody Chipman, in a letter to Coleman. “Nearly every course we have taken has been taught from a liberal perspective by a liberal professor. … If all schools of thought are not more equally represented, many students may never encounter them.”

YAL’s insistence that UM ignores viewpoint diversity in favor of skin-color diversity is not without merit. Chipman and YAL recently filed a lawsuit against UM for declining to fund one of their group’s events. The libertarian club brought Jennifer Gratz — a noted anti-affirmative action activist — to campus to give a talk about the Schuette case.

UM denied funding to this event on grounds that it was political in nature. (RELATED: College’s ‘neutral’ policy stiffs libertarian students, funds their opponents)

UM had no trouble, however, awarding funding to student members of BAMN for the purposes of traveling to Washington, D.C. to protest in favor of affirmative action on the steps of the Supreme Court.

Somehow, this activity did not qualify as “political.”

The obvious double standard speaks to the university’s lack of attention to creating a truly diverse campus, according to YAL’s lawsuit.

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