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February 05, 2014 - Image 9

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-02-05

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8B Wednesday February 5, 201 4 // The Statement

mean to tell me, you just
entertained over 100,000
people in the stadium, thou -
sands nationwide, and you
can't go celebrate because
there's no place for Black
people to go?'"
"And that's the truth,'
Collier said. 'There's no
place for us to go party. If
there is it's in a small, sweaty
house."
Despite the alienation that
some Black students face
on campus, there are still
opportunities to find homes
and spaces to call their own.
Many in the Black commu -
nity say they often centralize
within the all-Black institu -
tions such as the BSU, NSBE,
Black fraternities and sorori -
ties, among others.
'To be at Michigan is
to be white at Michigan,'
said Tyler. 'There are times
where it really sucks, you
have to just do things to fit
in."
LSA senior Dominique
Crump, president of Sister
2 Sister - an organization
comprised predominantly of
Black women - discussed
her challenge, as a leader of a
Black organization, in carry -
ing the responsibility to seek
out young Black students and
o' offer them a home, when the
majority of students don't
need to be purposefully
sought out. She explained
how difficult it was to con -
stantly be a "race person,'
finding it hard to get people
to listen and even harder to
create change.
"A permanent underclass
has been created since slaves
were boughtfrom West Afri -
ca and people want to ignore
that part of history because,
'Oh, we live in the United
States and you can pull your -
self up by your bootstraps.'
Okay, you've given me straps
but I don't have boots so
what am I pulling up?" she
said.
Crump's on-campus resu -
me includes jobs such as
Residential Advisor, mem -
ber of Sister 2 Sister and The
Office of Academic Multicul -
. tural Initiatives' Leadersand
Best program, to name a few.
While in these positions, she
has taken on the role of men -
tor, trying to help her fellow
Black students and guide
younger ones as they learn

some of the difficulties of
being Black at the Univer -
sity. Crump said it has taken
a considerable toll on her
and that beyond the natural
experiences of senioritis, she
is ready to leave the school.
"I'm tired. My soul is
tired, my body is tired, my
mind is tired," she said.
#BBUM and
the future
Though
the hashtag
started in
November,
the #BBUM
(Being
Black at
U of M)
concept
began
much
earlier.
Fol-
low-
ing the
acquittal
of George
Zimmer -
man in the
Trayvon Martin
case, the BSU held a
forum in July to discuss
the event and offer a chance
for people to share their feel -
ings. Collier, having recently
taken the role of BSU speak -
er at the time, said the dis -
cussion began as a reflection
on being Black in America,
and quickly evolved to being
Black at the University.
The next milestone came
in September, Collier said,
when Bloomberg News
reported that Black enroll -
ment had fallen 30 percent
over the six years after Affir -
mative Action was removed.
Collier said the Fall 2013
semester was a particularly
racially tense year on cam -
pus, noting upsetting com-
ments on stories on The
Michigan Daily's website, as
well as racially insensitive
events such as the Theta Xi
incident in which the fra -
ternity planned a "Hood
Ratchet'-themed party in
October.
"I've seen a lot of stuff
happen throughout my time
here but it was sort of on a
consistent basis last semes -
ter that racial tensions were
arising,"Collier said.

Collier
and BSU Secretary Geralyn
Gaines explained that while
the #BBUM movement had
been in its planning stages
before November, the Theta
Xi party controversy served
as impetus for the group
to move forward with the
hashtag. The plan to pres -
ent the University with a list
of demands had been devel-
oping since the summer,
Gaines said.
The #BBUM hashtag took
Twitter by storm after its
launch, with students, fac -
ulty and even alumni shar -
ing personal accounts, both
positive and negative, about
the Black experience at the
University.
"BBUM is also protec -
tion because if it weren't for
me going to the Black Stu -
dent Union, meeting Tyrell
and our vice president and
all them, I wouldn't feel as
protected on this campus,"
Gaines said.
Thetwo monthsfollowing
the launch of #BBUM have
been incredibly busy for the
BSU. The group presented

its seven demands
a protest outside Hill
Auditorium on Martin
Luther King Jr. Day, and
has received national media
attention for their efforts,
receiving endorsements
from figures such as Rever -
end Jesse Jackson, a noted
civil rights activist.
BSU members and Uni -
versity officials met for the
first time to discuss both
BSU's demands and the Uni -
versity's new diversity initia -
tives, as discussed in a public
e-mail from Provost Martha
Pollack.
Thus far, the University
has pledged $300,000 to
repair the current Trotter
Multicultural Center and
is in the process of design -
ing and site planning a new
building closer to Central
Campus. The BSU and Uni -
versity administrators dis -
cussed all seven demands
and plan to meet once a week
for status updates.
E. Royster Harper, Vice
President of Student Affairs,
said the demands are com-
prised of short-term and
long-term goals, and that
the University is very will -
ing to work together with
the BSU. Harper said in the
first meeting numerous ideas
were proposed. These ideas
included alternatives to

Affirmative Action, such as
reorganizing the recruiting
method to include special -
ized staff members, whose
job would be to scout for
potential students nation -
wide. Harper said University
President-elect Mark Schlis -
sel is supportive of the idea.
Additionally, she said the
school may expand the Pro -
gram on Intergroup Rela -
tions (IGR), offering more
classes on race dialogues
through the program possi -
bly by next year.
Still, Harper admitted
that it will be a long road
ahead, as is often the case
when dismantling racial
stigmas and split opportuni -
ties.
"Despite us talking
about what it means to be
in a respectful community,
despite having a hate and
bias team, there are still stu -
dents who are inexperienced
and intolerant and homo -
phobic and you don't get this
many people together and
not have some of that. Our
work has to constantly be
around education," she said.
Moving forward, Collier
said, students can take com -
fort in thefact that the BSU's
work these past months is
'only the beginning," and
that the Black community is
a support system for all its
members.

'As long as there are
Black students at Michigan,
#BBUM will exist," Collier
said.
Professor Elizabeth
James, a professor of Afri -
can-American studies and
advisor to the BSU, said as
an alum she understands the
types of issues students go
through-here and how diffi -
cult it is to be a Black student
at the University. She said
over her time as a student
and faculty member, she has
equated the racial climate on
campus to that of the entire
country, saying the Univer -
sity does prepare Black stu -
dents for life beyond college.
Still, James said she is,
optimistic and extremely
proud of the Black commu -
nity on campus today, say-
ing that while the Michigan
difference is different for a
Black student, she sees the
leadership, perseverance and
strength in those students is
the same as all Wolverines.
"I believe, in this particu -
lar case, they're only con -
tinuing a legacy of people
who have questioned and
dared the University to be
the best that they can be in
terms of all their students,"
she said. "You have to find
ways to kind of broach the
ivory tower and say, 'Hey,
we've all got to do this
together.'"

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