Some EMU students face expulsion after protest against racist graffiti

- Three Eastern Michigan University students are facing expulsion after what they say was simply a peaceful protest against hate.

A series of vandalism with racists words painted on buildings at EMU sparked a series of peaceful protests last week,

"This is vandalism, this is hate speech, this is terrorism," said Michael Wood, black student union president. "This is the sixth incident on our campus this semester, school has only been in session for a month and a half. I don't understand why these things are happening but it is been more than people to spray painting things on walls."

But now three of those student protesters are under fire by the university. Students facing punishment are accused of violating the university's code of conduct by organizing a sit in demonstration at the student center overnight last Tuesday.

University officials say the students were not allowed to be in the building past 1 a.m. and refused to leave.

"They're being investigated in terms of a violation of the student conduct code," said Walter Kraft, VP of communications, Eastern Michigan University. "Which carries a range of penalties anywhere from a warning, to expulsion from the university. It's designed to be educational."

Demajae Murray is one of the three students being called to questioning by administrators. He waited with a group outside the president's office Monday, asking for a conversation instead of punishment.

"It's kind of crazy how the university wants to put a hand on what's going on with the protest, even though it's not violent and always been peaceful," Murray said. "We're standing up for what we believe in, but yet they don't have the energy or the time or the resources, to find out who the real criminals are."

Retired and current faculty members, were at his side.

"It's totally unnecessary," said Sandy Norton, retired faculty member. "If EMU would have decided to support them, they would have looked wonderful. But they don't think outside the box."

"These are pretty minor rules, and this is the student center," said Judy Kullberg, president of EMU faculty senate. "So they were occupying their own center for the purpose of drawing attention."

Kraft says university officials are doing everything they can to put a stop to the tagging, which includes hurtful terms for African-Americans and words of support for the KKK.

"The reality is all of us are concerned about the incidents of racist vandalism," Kraft said. "And we are very focused on every handing the people involved. We put out a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest."

To Demajae Murray, that still isn't enough.

"To me, solidarity would be dropping the charges," Murray said. "And voicing that you are really on our side, instead what they are doing, is singling out the people that they consider to be leaders and trying to (silence them)."

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