The University of Michigan Board of Regents received a letter Feb. 22 entitled “White students colonize the dash”, Which advised the administration to focus on building and maintaining designated safe places on campus for colored students. In the letter, Byron Brooks, a master’s student in social work and education, CSG’s deputy political adviser, outlined the history and goals of the Trotter multicultural center.
“The Trotter House was born as a result of this movement, but through its expansion and relocation to its current location, the students who fought for the creation of Trotter are oppressed through the power and privileges inherent in our community,” the letter said.
History of the Trotter Multicultural Center
Since 2019, the university’s multicultural center was located on South State Street. Prior to that, the building was known as “Trotter House”And was located on Southern University Avenue. The first was “Trotter House”. created in 1971 by the efforts of Black Action movement. In 1972, he moved to Washtenaw Avenue after the building was damaged on fire. Since its inception, the Trotter Center has served as a safe place for black students; multicultural student organizations have contributed to public participation at both the Trotter House and what is now the Trotter Center.
The letter explained the story and the concern that non-multicultural organizations were booking rooms in the building.
“What should be a Mecca for colored students has become a whitewashed space where white students do not respect the sacredness or purpose of the space,” the letter said.
University spokeswoman Kim Brookhausen explained the process of booking a place in Trotter in an email to The Michigan Daily and wrote that the building aims to include all student organizations on campus.
“As a national leader in promoting an inclusive climate on campus, the Trotter Multicultural Center acts as an on-campus facilitator, organizer and coordinator of initiatives in intercultural interaction and inclusive leadership education for students at the University of Michigan,” Brookhaisen wrote. “Therefore, Trotter does not discriminate against those who may use the facility.”
The statement also describes the booking process: organizations related to multinational student affairs (MESA), which to represent various minority groups on campus get the first priority for reservations in early August. After this period, room reservations open to the rest of the campus community on the first day of classes.
«Reservations open from the first day of classes until the last day of the winter semester, ”Bruckheisen wrote. “Reservations are open to all student organizations Service of conferences and events. As a result, events are posted on every door for community viewing. ”
In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Brooks said that watching Trater be occupied by predominantly white students, he felt that safe places were not respected on campus.
“I see that students of white organizations who are not marginalized people, which is (a) the majority on campus, fall into a space that should be a safe space for minorities and multicultural students,” Brooks said. “In order for people to know Trotter’s origins and simply (ignore him) and disrespect his sacredness, allegedly in a safe space that shows the problem of the dynamics of power privileges that still affect the campus, I felt it needed to be addressed.” .
Brooks said safe places go beyond symbolic gestures, and regents should encourage respect for those places.
“Now it’s one thing to just say that this place is a safe place from the top of the administration and down, (and that’s another) not to provide a safe place,” Brooks said. “It continues to be diluted and no longer meets what it should have been.”
Second-year engineer Devin Griffin, a member of the Black Students Union, said safe places on campus ensure the emotional well-being of students from minorities. He said there are not many black students on campus, so maintaining safe places is very important. Simple 3.92% Undergraduate students at the University of Michigan-Ann-Arbor identify themselves as black or African-American.
“It can be lonely if you’re not relatively close to home,” Griffin said. “It is very important to have something familiar, something that can be called home. These cultural organizations are some of the best ways to do this. Safe spaces are very important because it can harm your mental health (if they are not there).
Griffin said that if they take away a safe place to make room for others, it can defeat the whole goal of a safe space.
“You can’t just throw everything in a pot and expect someone to feel it’s a clear idea of their culture or somewhere where they can feel safe,” Brooks said. “The university should focus less on trying to create one safe place for everyone, and instead listen to students and act on what they ask for.”
The Daily Staff reporter Nirali Patel can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.