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600 Jam Hearing To Protest Racism On Campus

March 6, 1987

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) _ Black students at the University of Michigan packed a ballroom to tell a legislative panel they are tired of being the brunt of racial jokes and threatened by verbal and physical abuse.

After listening to four hours of testimony about racism on campus, state Rep. Morris Hood said, ″We cannot afford and will not tolerate racism at any of our campuses.″

Black students told of racist flyers distributed at the university and of an incident Wednesday night in which four white students attacked a black student who came to the defense of a black waitress at an on-campus bar.

About 600 people attended the hearing.

Hood, who chairs a legislative subcommittee that reviews funding for higher education, promised to meet with university officials and students to discuss ways of meeting a list of 12 demands issued by the student-led United Coalition Against Racism.

The coalition asked Hood’s panel to tie up all funding for the university unless it establishes a specific plan to increase black student enrollment above its current level of 5 percent, institutes tuition waivers for economically-disadvantaged minorities and requires all students to take a course on diversity and bigotry.

The students also asked the university to lift its opposition to celebrating Martin Luther King Day and issuing an honorary degree to imprisoned South African leader Nelson Mandela.

Hood said his subcommittee could withhold all or part of the university’s projected $233 million appropriation if it doesn’t take action to resolve the students’ list of grievances.

University President Harold Shapiro said he will review each of the coalition’s demands.

Shapiro told the legislators that the university is committed to rooting out racism and is investigating recent racial incidents.

JoAnne Gurley, who lived in a dormitory where a flyer was distributed declaring an ″open season″ on blacks, spoke of the fears experienced by many blacks on campus.

Gurley told how fellow white students had called her ″Mammy″ and another girl in her dorm had told her she would be ″lynched if (she) didn’t pay her hall dues.″

Roderick Linzie, a member of the Free South Africa Coordinating Committee, told the panel four white students Wednesday night threatened to kill a black student who had come to the defense of a black waitress at an on-campus bar.

″He was saved by the fact that another black student happened to be walking by,″ Linzie said.

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