U-M students want activist center in wake of racial incidents

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University of Michigan students are asking the school to build and pay for what they are calling an activist center to combat racism.

The group Students 4 Justice at the University of Michigan have set up two online petitions including one that calls for a designated space on campus for students of color to meet and organize.

The petition is close to getting one thousand signatures, although the organization says there has been a misunderstanding that this is a push for a black only section at U-M.

"We never said people of color only," said student Victoria Johnson. "We just said a place for us to organize."

If that had been the case, a university spokesperson says it would not be possible because it violates the school's non-discrimination policy.

The students here say recent acts of racism including threatening emails to African Americans and Jewish people is only one concern, and they should feel safe to express their views.

"Being silent, it's nothing," Johnson said. "It doesn't do anything. By him vocally stating he supports students and he's here to provide a safe space that we're trying to create, it just shows he's not trying to work against us."

"There is a lot of toxic things that happen on this campus," said student Lakyrra Magee. "We need to do something about it. Students are coming with creative solutions to do that."

"The grass roots organization says it wants have an activist center where students can organize, supported and funded by the school.

"I pay $50,000 a year to go here," said student Lawrielle West. "If I want a location for me and my peers to organize, I think that is a very reasonable thing to do, and it's not exclusive. That's what community organizing is about, being inclusive."

The spokesperson for the university went on to say U-M is in the process of constructing a new trotter multicultural center. The center will include free, reservable meeting and event space for all registered student organizations.