On Wednesday, November 16, nearly one thousand protesters participated in an organized campus walkout in response to the election and the “increase in hate crimes and other forms of violence against marginalized folx.”
The march took over campus from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm and began starting on the Diag where students who had walked out of class gathered in protest. After a short rally featuring Jesse Jackson, who was visiting campus, and several student speakers, the march continued across campus. While marching through what are normally quiet study spaces, protesters yelled at students: “If you’re with us, join us!” and “Out of the classrooms, into the streets!”
According to the Facebook page, organizers had hoped to “hold President Schlissel and our Regents at the University of Michigan accountable for their claims of valuing diversity and student safety and well-being.” Apparently, part of this accountability includes university control over national politics and outside groups as protesters chanted “No alt-right, no KKK, no fascist USA,” as they stormed the Undergraduate Library.
A female undergraduate student, who wishes to remain anonymous, witnessed some of the protests. She told The Michigan Review, “Yeah, it’s just scary. This campus is scary right now and it is just very extreme.”
She continued, “I don’t know that this is making it better—I agree things need to be brought up, and they are being brought up, especially in this political climate—but I am not sure if stomping around campus is going to help rather than hurt. It hurts to watch!” Others, especially those stuck in traffic on South University due to the protests , seemed to agree.
While many white students attended the protest, the organizers seemed to have intended to limit their participation. On a logistics and safety page for the event, a section titled “roles open to white people,” included policing people and being crowd control marshals.
In another display of activism, a demand letter released by the organizers calls for the University of Michigan to protect its students, remove labels of white supremacy on campus, divest from corporations that abuse human rights, and that the University be a sanctuary for undocumented students and Muslim immigrants, among other specific goals. These demands come less than 24 hours after a contentious student government vote on a resolution supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) from companies profiting from work with Israeli settlements.
Several professors, lecturers, and GSIs excused students from class, and encouraged them to peacefully exercise their first amendment rights.