On Wednesday, a group calling itself the National University of Michigan’s Student Rights Coalition published a statement demanding that the university rescind its decision to deny a “safe space” to students on campus.
“As the first public university in the state to embrace the First Amendment, it is critically important that our university is respected by all who care about its mission,” the statement reads.
“In recent weeks, we have seen a concerted effort by right- wing groups and hate groups to undermine and shut down our university, its reputation, and the academic mission of the school.”
The statement continues, “In response, the university is issuing a notice of violation and inviting members of the public to participate in a forum to discuss the issue at a public meeting in the coming weeks.
The university has not taken action, however, to remove this event as a public event.”
The coalition, which claims to represent “all students, faculty, and staff,” is part of a larger movement that has called for the university to divest from fossil fuel companies, end funding for the school’s Center for Environmental Justice (CEJ), and end its sponsorship of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
The movement is led by the Students for a Democratic Society, a student organization at the University of California at Berkeley.
In its statement, the coalition accused the university of being a “center for right-leaning extremists” and claiming that “they are trying to censor students.”
“They’re trying to silence students and students at other universities for speaking out against the racist and oppressive system of white supremacy,” a representative for the coalition said.
The coalition also called for “the university to remove any affiliation with this organization from the website of its Student Rights Commission and remove all university logos from the grounds.”
A spokesperson for the National Organization for Women (NOW), an organization that has long opposed the use of the word “rape,” said in a statement that the coalition “has no place in the public square” and that it was “deeply disappointed that they are trying and failing to stop students from voicing their concerns.”
“We encourage the students to reach out to their leaders and make their voices heard,” the spokesperson continued.
“This is an issue of public health, safety, and equity, and we support students who stand up to defend their rights and their voices.”
The National Organization of Women is not the only group that has criticized the university’s decision.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Coalition for Responsible Journalism (CRJ), a nonpartisan news outlet, wrote that “Michigan State’s decision to withhold an event from its Student Affairs Commission, an independent body established to review university actions, is unconscionable.
The University’s decision is an affront to basic human rights and basic academic freedom.”
“It is time to stop the hypocrisy of this university and its leadership, which has become so politically correct and afraid of free speech that it is willing to make decisions that violate the Constitution and academic freedom,” CRJ President Mary Ann Miller said in the statement.
“The university is a public institution and it should be open and transparent with students, staff, and alumni.”