Student activists at the University of Michigan issued a wide-ranging list of demands Monday to the school’s administration, accusing top officials of choosing their “financial interests over the well-being of students.”
Activists groups One University Campaign and Climate Action Movement sent a joint letter to school President Mark Schlissel (pictured right) and the Board of Regents regarding “equitable funding of the university’s Flint and Dearborn campuses, reduction of the university’s massive carbon footprint, and a reversal of the unprecedented hostility toward student activism on campus.”
“Though our goals appear disparate on their surface, we stand together because we now understand that our movements are inextricably linked. We have both watched as this administration negates the voices of students asking for common-sense change,” the letter states.
The letter contains five specific demands, including the extension of the Go Blue Guarantee program to all three university campuses. The program provides free tuition to students from families with incomes under $65,000, but only applies to students who attend the Ann Arbor campus.
“Students, faculty, and staff in Flint and Dearborn still suffer from insufficient financial aid, departmental cuts, and lack of support services with no imminent reprieve,” the student groups say in their letter.
“President Schlissel announced his commitment to carbon neutrality in October 2018 – but since then, almost no progress has been made towards carbon neutrality, nor has a timeline been set for its implementation. Even more shameful, students of the Climate Action Movement were punished for their critical advocacy with arrest in March of 2019,” the letter continues.
Protesters organized a sit-in demonstration in a school administration building in March as part of a global “Climate Strike” and were arrested for trespassing. The student activists are now demanding the university release a “public statement of wrongdoing in arresting the March 15 climate protesters.”
“The university, despite its admirable history of supporting student activism, refuses to issue an apology for the arrests and continues to stifle discussion of ways that the university can mitigate its role in accelerating climate change,” reads the letter.
Solomon Medintz, a student member of the Climate Action Movement, said protesters have been “silenced with intimidation, stonewalling, and arrest.”
“The concerns we have voiced cannot wait for the administration to take action on its empty words – and climate change is not waiting for the university’s corporate timeline,” Medintz said in a press release. “There are countless ways for the university to address climate change with the urgency required, but for this Regent’s Meeting, we merely ask that they do the bare minimum to be a leader on climate justice.”
The student activists said they plan to attend the December 5 Board of Regents meeting to “see progress on the demands issued.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Mark Schlissel” by Michigan University.