Stories indexed with the term ‘student protests’

Shouts, Songs Occupy UM Regents Meeting

University of Michigan board of regents meeting (Dec. 15, 2011): The December regents meeting reflected campus activism and the arts – nearly in equal measure.

Occupy UM protesters

Occupy UM protesters walking toward the Fleming administration building prior to the Dec. 15 regents meeting, where they protested against the high cost of public education. Flyers taped to The Cube repeated the same theme. (Photos by the writer.)

As UM president Mary Sue Coleman began her opening remarks to start Thursday’s meeting, about two dozen “Occupy UM” protesters, who’d been sitting in the boardroom, stood up and shouted, “Mic check!” For the next five minutes, in a call-and-response delivery, protesters outlined their grievances against the university’s leadership – primarily, that once-affordable public education has been turned into an expensive commodity. [A video of the protest is posted on YouTube.]

When the group finished, they left the boardroom chanting “Instruction, not construction!” Neither the regents nor Coleman responded to them or alluded to the protest during the rest of the meeting.

Another group of students gave a decidedly different performance just minutes later. The a cappella group Amazin’ Blue sang five holiday songs, prompting board chair Denise Ilitch to don a blue Santa’s hat – embroidered with “Michigan” – and sing along.

The meeting included two issues related to the Ann Arbor community and parking. During public commentary, Chip Smith of the Near Westside Neighborhood Association highlighted problems with a UM parking lot that’s surrounded by homes on the Old West Side. And in a staff memo accompanying a resolution to issue bonds for capital projects, Fuller Road Station was on the list in the category of projects that would require final approval by regents prior to being funded with bond proceeds. The regents had approved the controversial project – a joint UM/city of Ann Arbor parking structure, bus depot and possible train station – in January 2010, but a formal agreement between the city and university has not yet been finalized.

Other items on the Dec. 15 agenda included: (1) presentations by three UM faculty who were named MacArthur Fellows this year; (2) approval of the Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups (MINTS) initiative; and (3) approval of several renovation projects, including work on the Law School’s historic Charles T. Munger Residences in the Lawyers’ Club and the John P. Cook Building. [Full Story]

“Open It Up or Shut It Down”

It’s a warm, breezy afternoon in late March. On the University of Michigan’s Diag – a grassy square in the center of campus crisscrossed by sidewalks – students are tossing Frisbees, strumming guitars, basking in the sun, and generally enjoying the promise of spring after a long, cold winter. The clothes and hairstyles change, but for the most part the scene remains the same, year after year.

Black Action Movement protesters on the University of Michigan campus in 1970

Black Action Movement protesters on the University of Michigan campus in 1970. (Photo courtesy of Jay Cassidy.)

Except that if you could somehow step back in time exactly four decades you would be greeted by a very different sight: students shouting, marching, and picketing; classes disrupted, canceled, or being held in nearby churches; angry voices calling for the deployment of the National Guard; a campus and community pushed almost to the breaking point. If the events of the Black Action Movement strike of 40 years ago had unfolded only a little differently, today people might speak of “Michigan” rather than “Kent State” as marking the tragic and deadly end of the sixties.

Instead, the BAM strike became one of the few protests of that era in which the students could make a valid claim of victory. [Full Story]

Ex-Radicals Remember Robben Fleming

President Fleming at a press conference during the Black Action Movement strike in March of 1970.

UM President Robben Fleming at a press conference during the Black Action Movement strike in March 1970. (Photo courtesy of Jay Cassidy.)

On March 12, 1968, Robben Wright Fleming was inaugurated as the ninth president of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It was a time of great turmoil on college campuses across the country, especially at Michigan, which was in the vanguard of the radical student movement. Fleming had been hired to replace the retiring Harlan Hatcher largely because of the reputation he had built for controlling student unrest while chancellor at the University of Wisconsin.

Fleming’s background was as a labor negotiator, and he preferred to engage students in reasoned discussion and debate rather than send in the riot squad. As he related in his autobiography, “Tempests into Rainbows,” after learning of his interest in taking the top post at Michigan, the regents of the university invited him to the Pontchartrain Hotel in Detroit, where for two hours they talked mainly about how he would deal with student disruptions.

Fleming explained to the regents that he “thought force must be avoided insofar as humanly possible, that indignities and insults could be endured if they averted violence, and that … these problems would last for some unspecified time, but that they would eventually end.” The next day he was offered the presidency. [Full Story]

Iranian Students Protest Election Fraud

Iranian students protest on the Diag.

Iranian students protest on the Diag. On the right is Eugene Dariush Daneshvar.

The Chronicle first met Eugene Dariush Daneshvar in the context of “home” – he attended a Wall Street neighborhood meeting we covered in December 2008, where he was concerned about how his home in the Riverside Park Place condominiums would be affected by a University of Michigan building project.

On Tuesday evening we encountered him again, also in the context of home – this time, he was on the Diag with about 100 other Iranian students and faculty, protesting voter fraud in recently held elections in their homeland. [Full Story]