Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) stands with the University of Michigan Black Student Union and Being Black at the University of Michigan (#BBUM) who are building a movement on their campus to demand that the University provide greater access and support to students of color and poor or working-class students. SDS stands with the UM Black Student Union and student organizers in their demand that the University of Michigan take immediate action to meet the demands of the students.
The demands established (as laid out below), are to be met in 7 days. If they are not, students at the U of M have put forward that they intend to increase their actions, thus increasing pressure on the University to take seriously the felt oppression, delegitimization and marginalization that black and brown people on campuses across the U.S. experience on a daily basis. Like many colleges, the U of M’s response to the backlash from students that has been brewing for months on this issue was hollow. Instead of getting at the root of a problem, forums were provided as a way to boost dialogue about race relations on campus. Simply talking about the issues over and over has solved nothing. The university should be taking actual steps toward becoming a more inclusive school for populations who are historically on the periphery. This means increasing awareness and offering courses, majors and resources about the exploitative history of marginalized populations within the United States; it means increasing access to populations who often find college inaccessible because of students’ ability to pay the ever increasing tuition costs.
We see University systems across the U.S. shutting out black and brown students, working-class students and students who come from a lineage of poverty. Tuition at most universities has doubled over the past decade with student fees being increased as well. We hear colleges say they want to “increase diversity”, but the actions they take do not correlate. Most students, by deciding to go to college, are entering into a lifetime of debt. We also see that most urban universities do not reflect their urban population. State universities should especially be responsible for increasing enrollment amongst the communities it claims to represent. Black and brown people represent a growing part of the population, yet our universities are seeing decreasing black and brown student enrollment numbers. This should be reversed.
We commend the #BBUM movement for taking a bold stand against the U of M’s ongoing policies of exclusion. We unite with their demands and look forward to seeing all of them met by the University’s administration. We will stand with these students and all students fighting for dignity at their own campuses until victory is won. If you dare to struggle, you dare to win! -SDS
Demands of the students of Being Black at the University of Michigan (#BBUM):
- We demand that the university give us an equal opportunity to implement change, the change that complete restoration of the BSU purchasing power through an increased budget would obtain.
- We demand available housing on central campus for those of lower socio-economic status at a rate that students can afford, to be a part of university life, and not just on the periphery.
- We demand an opportunity to congregate and share our experiences in a new Trotter [Multicultural Center] located on central campus.
- We demand an opportunity to be educated and to educate about America’s historical treatment and marginalization of colored groups through race and ethnicity requirements throughout all schools and colleges within the university.
- We demand the equal opportunity to succeed with emergency scholarships for black students in need of financial support, without the mental anxiety of not being able to focus on and afford the university's academic life.
- We demand increased exposure of all documents within the Bentley (Historical) Library. There should be transparency about the university and its past dealings with race relations.
- We demand an increase in black representation on this campus equal to 10 percent.