YPSILANTI, Mich. ― Students at Eastern Michigan University protested with a rally and sit-in on Wednesday after more racist graffiti was discovered on campus this week.
Students marched late Tuesday and gathered at the EMU Student Center on the school’s Ypsilanti campus, with some participating in a sit-in early Wednesday. Participants said they dispersed after being told by police to clear out when the center closed. A faculty rally also is planned.
The university said the graffiti targeting African Americans was discovered Monday spray-painted on the exterior of Ford Hall and was immediately removed.
Eastern Michigan senior Demajae Muray, who was among the protesters, told The Ann Arbor News that the rally was intended to demonstrate students “weren’t leaving” in response to racist messages.
“The message is simple: We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “We’re not trying to cause chaos … we’re just standing up for our rights and what we believe in.”
University spokesman Geoff Larcom said university supports the students’ right to protest, but those who were in the student center after the 1 a.m. closing time are subject to the conditions of the student code and could be considered trespassing.
On Tuesday, school President Jim Smith announced the creation of the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, which will provide recommendations about studying the campus racial climate and identify programs that are helping, and make recommendations to him.
Smith said in a statement that the vandalism is “hateful” and says the school is working to foster respect, equity and inclusion.
The university has said a reward for information about similar graffiti that appeared in late September has been doubled to $10,000 and applies to the latest incident as well. The earlier graffiti led to protests, including one at an Eastern Michigan football game.