Eastern Michigan University is investigating after racist pictures were painted on students’ wall of speech 2022-04-28 20:54:38


Ypsalanti, Michigan.Eastern Michigan University He responded and denounced the racist images painted on a message on my students’ speech wall in the middle of the university campus. The area is dedicated to freedom of speech.

Late last week, Black Greek Letter Organization (BGLO) painted Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc. A letter on one of the students’ letter walls to commemorate the introduction of their new members.

EMU’s NAACP Chapter President, MaKayla Stevens, said, “…that same night, the message was covered. There was like monkey spray painted over it plus words we couldn’t quite comprehend by two students who later posted their artwork on EMU The Engage App with is basically a social media for the university.”

Dr Doris Fields, the university’s interim chief diversity officer, was alerted and said: “They (the Taliban) apologized immediately afterwards, but the effect was already there.”


The two students explained that it was a misunderstanding and that they had no idea it was a message from the Black Brothers that they had covered. One student posted, in part, “We could never have expected a joke to turn into this but I can’t stand all of you, we deserve it.”

Stevens believes that the claim that the letter was some kind of joke is an excuse.

“Of all the animals we have, you guys have chosen to spray monkeys which we know historically have been very disrespectful towards the black community in general,” Stevens said.

A police report has been made and Dr. Fields is investigating it as well.

“On Monday I put out a letter from me to the students because I want to make sure the students feel safe,” Fields said.

She monitored the posts in the Engage app, met the students as well as the siblings. She plans to meet with the NAACP branch on campus next week.

Stevens’ concern is that there is a pattern with racist incidents and the university taking no action.


“There’s an event every year since 2016. We haven’t done anything since. Every event has been wiped under the rug. He’s been very popular on social media for about a week and a week and a half, and then nobody says anything,” Stevens said.

This time is different, Fields said. She has been a Professor at the European Monetary Union for nearly 30 years but most recently held the position of interim Chief Diversity Officer.

“We have never had a Chief Diversity Officer before. So here I am. And I want to let the students know that I am their advocate and that I will keep them safe and address these issues at all times,” Fields said.

Here are the email fields sent on Monday:

Dear EMU community,

I am writing to you today to speak about the racist comments and images that were recently painted on the student speech wall of the EMU Government.

Racist pictures on the student’s speech wall

Late last week, pictures of monkeys and racist phrases were sprinkled on a student speech wall covering messages previously posted there by African-American fraternities and sororities. Racist photos and stages were also shared on the EMU Engage app. Pictures of monkeys and/or statements linking monkeys to African Americans have long been considered racist caricatures.


Eastern Michigan University condemns these hateful photos and statements. Racist rhetoric and actions are completely inconsistent with the mission, values ​​and welcoming environment on campus. Racial stereotypes, statements, jokes, or other acts of racial insensitivity, discrimination or prejudice on our campuses are not acceptable.

I understand and share the range of feelings—anger, frustration, disappointment, fear, and sadness—that our African American students, faculty, and staff are experiencing at this moment. It’s hard to feel that you belong to a culture or that you are an important member of it when you are undervalued by those around you. We must do better. Our campus community must ensure that every student has the opportunity to obtain a quality education. We all deserve an environment in which we live free from discrimination, racism and prejudice.

Ongoing investigation

I have been in close contact with President Smith, Police Chief Matthew Legge and other university leaders regarding this matter. We are working collectively to investigate this matter, and we share their anger with the campus community. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) investigation is still ongoing. When this investigation is complete, DPS will share its report with the Washtenaw County District Attorney’s Office, which has the final decision on whether or not criminal charges should be filed. Together, we will continue to update the campus community as more facts emerge.


First Amendment Role

An important element of the criminal investigation of these incidents is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gives individuals a broad right to express their opinions, including those that are disturbing or reprehensible, largely without restriction. The Student Speech Wall is designed to promote open expression and dialogue among emu students. It is managed by the EMU Student Government, and the purpose of the space is as follows:

Eastern Michigan University students are encouraged to paint these spaces to communicate upcoming events and other public messages. Although students have ample leeway for writing letters on the student speech space, student government urges all writers to adhere closely to Eastern Michigan University’s core values ​​of excellence, respect, inclusiveness, responsibility, and integrity. We encourage positive and informative messaging.”


The racist rhetoric painted on the wall clearly does not adhere to these guidelines.

Unfortunately, individuals often use the First Amendment to avoid accountability for hateful phrases and expressions. This behavior may not be illegal because it is protected by the First Amendment. However, it goes against the mission and values ​​of the European Monetary Union, and we condemn it.

The university encourages students who write on the student talk space (including the wall and nearby kiosks) to communicate information about upcoming events and “positive and informative messages”. If you are planning to paint the wall, we ask that you think carefully about the result that you hope to achieve with your statements and message. How will others hear it, interpret it and be affected by it?

On-campus communication carries a responsibility to respect peers. Racist messages like the one painted last week are dismissed and conveyed to some that they may not be welcome on our campuses. They are creating a culture of fear, division and hatred. People succeed in cultures that support, include, and foster a sense of security and belonging. Each of us is responsible for the energy we put into creating a community that welcomes and fosters the success of people of all backgrounds and experiences.


Next steps

EMU strives to build bridges and an inclusive environment across campus. We are committed to removing barriers and improving interracial relations, and making conscious efforts in building an educational institution that accepts all races, cultures, religions, nationalities, gender identities and sexual orientations. Understanding that inclusion is an act and process of continuous improvement and acceptance of differences, the university will demonstrate our commitment to inclusion by offering the following initiatives:

  • The university’s Temporary Diversity Officer offers DEI office hours open all summer on Wednesdays from 3 PM to 5 PM (101C Boone) beginning April 27 through the week of August 31. Faculty and staff who wish to share their thoughts on the situation and other DEI concerns across the university. (Zoom appointments must be scheduled prior to the meeting by email Chief_diversity_officer@emich.edu.)
  • We are creating a feedback process that will be open to students, faculty, and staff to provide suggestions for developing a Student Diversity Training Workshop. DEI will be created by students for students, hosted by the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, and focus on creating the culture we aspire to have on our campus.

  • EMU students will also have the opportunity to participate in the DEI Listening Tour in September 2022 to discuss DEI projects/programs/initiatives, and DEI concerns. Dates and times will be announced as fall approaches. If you are interested in participating in any of these initiatives, please contact me at Chief_diversity_officer@emich.edu.

Finally, we can only achieve a truly inclusive campus community if every member of our community actively participates in the process of change. I hope you will join me in our efforts to create a more inclusive learning environment for students, faculty, and staff – where everyone can thrive academically, feel safe, and receive a quality education.


Thank you,

Dr.. Doris Fields

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