University caves: will provide $300K to renovate multicultural center, appease student group that threatened 'physical action'

Campus Reform Reporter

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  • The University of Michigan will spend $300,000 to renovate the Trotter Multicultural Center
  • The Black Student Union threatened "physical action" last week unless its list of seven demands was met, including a new multicultural center on campus
  • The University of Michigan will allocate $300,000 to renovate the Trotter Multicultural Center, in order to comply with the at least one of the Black Student Union (BSU) demands.

    The decision comes after members of the University’s administration and members of the BSU met Friday to discuss all seven of the group’s demands, according to The Michigan Daily. The group had originally demanded that a new multicultural center be built on campus—the Trotter Center is currently located several blocks away from campus—and threatened “physical action” if its demands were not met, but senior and BSU Speaker Tyrell Collier said he was happy with the move.

    "I can say that was a satisfying conclusion for the Multicultural Center demand because I know a building cannot be built within the span of a year or something, I know it needs to be planned out, designed, all of that stuff."   

    “I can say that was a satisfying conclusion for the Multicultural Center demand because I know a building cannot be built within the span of a year or something, I know it needs to be planned out, designed, all of that stuff,” Collier said, adding that he was “very pleased with the allocation of that money for the renovations while they figure out the new building.”

    Multiple members of the administration were present at Friday’s meeting, including Elizabeth Barry, special counsel to the president; E. Royster Harper, vice president for student life; Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones and Provost Martha Pollack. Three members of the University’s Board of Regents were also present at the meeting in what the Daily describes as an “observatory capacity.”

    BSU members said that the administration will further meet with them to discuss weekly status updates on each of their other demands, which include such things as “emergency scholarships” for black students in need of financial support and increasing black enrollment to ten-percent of the student body.

    Prior to the BSU’s January 20th protest, the group conducted a viral Twitter campaign, Being Black at University of Michigan (#BBUM). Provost Pollack wrote a campus-wide email in response on the 16th, promising improvements to Trotter, a new administrative position dedicated to minority recruitment and retention, and a residence hall program focused on inclusion.

    “We will start a broad conversation with students, staff and faculty to capture their best thinking as we collectively reimagine a future multicultural center,” she wrote.

    That email resulted in a letter to the university’s president, Mary Sue Coleman, from the local chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), complaining the university focuses on diversity of race, gender, and religion over diversity of ideals. 

    In the letter, exclusively obtained by Campus Reform, the group asks that the university increase its libertarian and conservative course offerings, charging that a publicly funded institution such as the University of Michigan has an obligation “to represent all schools of political and cultural thought.”

    “By and large, I don’t think you could find an Austrian [school of economics] professor here,” YAL President Derik Magill told Campus Reform.

    “And that’s just in the Economics department. You can go to political science and, you know, you can’t really find a right-wing professor. You can go to the History Department, you can’t really find conservative-leaning professors,” he said.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter:@SteveLarson

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