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EMU President Addresses Latest Racist Message Discovered On Campus

Sep 28, 2017

Eastern Michigan University President James Smith
Credit Eastern Michigan University / emich.edu

Another racist message has been discovered on the Eastern Michigan University Campus. 

In a message to the campus community Wednesday night, EMU President James Smith says the message was discovered in a bathroom stall on the 1st floor of the Student Center.  An investigation to establish a timeline of when the message targeting the black community may have been written is underway. Smith says the message has been painted over. 

In September of 2016, racist graffiti was discovered painted on the outside of EMU's King Hall.  A subsequent investigation turned up more hateful messages on campus.  Smith says the investigation into those incidents continues, but to this point no suspects have been identified. 

In his message, President Smith says it is likely these kinds of incidents will continue, but he believes EMU can fight back by “finding unity and comfort in the shared purpose and diversity of our campus community.” 

Here is President Smith’s message:

To students, faculty and staff:

This evening, a racist message targeting our Black community was discovered in a men's bathroom stall on the first floor of the Student Center.  I strongly condemn these actions and want to reiterate that they run counter to the values and practices we so deeply embrace in our Eastern Michigan University community.  Last year, it became absolutely clear how such hateful statements offend, intimidate and anger so many members of our EMU community, and we as a campus shared that pain as we confronted those acts. 

The hateful message in the stall has been quickly painted over by Physical Plant staff, and we are actively investigating the timeline of when it might have been written and reviewing other relevant details of the incident.  I also want to stress that the investigation of last year's racist vandalism incidents actively continues and will do so until a resolution.  Our Department of Public Safety has invested hundreds of hours in that effort, and it remains a top priority.

These are turbulent and disturbing times nationally, and such incidents are likely to continue.  But I believe we can fight back, by finding unity and comfort in the shared purpose and diversity of our campus community.  These are powerful strengths of Eastern Michigan, which we collectively try to demonstrate on a daily basis.  One person or group writing on a wall cannot erase the sense of shared purpose and pride in our diverse community of more than 24,000 students, faculty and staff.

Most respectfully,

James M. Smith

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu