Last fall, the Black Student Union at the University of Michigan began a social media campaign relating to the racial climate on campus and calling for efforts to increase the number of Black students. The University of Michigan is prohibited by state law from considering race in admissions decisions. Blacks make up less than 5 percent of the undergraduate student body, whereas African Americans are 14.3 percent of the state’s population.
The Black Student Union made a series of seven demands. The university has held regular meetings with representatives of the Black Student Union and both sides agree that progress has been made but that a lot more needs to be done.
The students demanded that the Trotter Multicultural Center be upgraded and money has been allocated for renovations. And the university agreed to build a new multicultural center nearer the center of campus within the next five years.
The lack of affordable housing in the vicinity of campus makes it difficult for many low-income students to attend the university. The university has extended the hours of university busing to outlying areas and has provided funding for public transportation for other students.
The university has agreed to increase funding for the Black Student Union and will look at ways to improve Black student recruiting.
Geralyn Gaines, secretary of the Black Student Union, stated, “The meetings with the administration have been quite productive, but proved that the completion of the demands will take longer than we originally thought. We realize that these meetings with the administration were only small wins. There is still a lot of work to be done on both ends.”
University of Michigan Provost Martha E. Pollack added, “We’ve worked hard together on these topics. The students raised issues that absolutely needed to be dealt with and provided valuable insight on ways to effect change.”