Students and faculty at EMU respond to racist graffiti on campus

Nov 2, 2016

Eastern Michigan University students and faculty are frustrated with the racist graffiti discovered on campus earlier this week.

Hundreds of them gathered to peacefully protest outside of Ford Hall on EMU's campus, where a racial slur targeting black students was spray-painted.

This is the third separate instance of graffiti with a racist message towards black students within two months.

According to data from the university, black students are nearly 20% of the school’s total population, as of 2015.

Taylor Amari Little, a black freshman at EMU, says she’s not surprised by these incidents.

“We go to a predominantly white institution, so it’s sad and unfortunate and it makes me upset like it makes everyone else angry, I hope, but this isn’t surprising at all,” Little says.

Little says upperclassmen have been showing her support in the wake of these incidents.

"A lot of sophomores and up, they were constantly coming to me and saying I'm sorry this is what's going on your freshman year," Little says.

Desmine Robinson is a black sophomore at EMU. He says the incidents caught him off guard.

"I was torn up because I didn't know what I wanted to say or what I wanted to do," he says.

Robinson took part in a silent protest that followed the graffiti incidents from earlier this fall.

“We wanted to prove that black lives don’t only matter to black lives, and we made that message very clear,” he says. “So when this was spray painted again, it didn’t demean what we said. It actually gave us an opportunity to move [further] with that statement.”

Robinson pointed to the large number of people at the protest who aren’t black as proof that students of color have more support than just those who look like them.

Despite these events, Robinson still feels that EMU is an accepting place.

"A lot of sophomores and up, they were constantly coming to me and saying I'm sorry this is what's going on your freshman year."

“EMU is a friendly place, I don’t even believe the people who did this go [here],” he says.

The campus police department is offering $10,000 for any tips that will assist in its investigation of the three incidents, which is double the amount the department offered after the second incident occurred in September.

Several demonstrations and events to encourage unity have occurred since the initial graffiti slurs were spotted.