With the reversal of DACA, Latinx students are not having the best back to school season. At the University of Michigan, Latinx students came face to face with an awful message.
According to an email U-M student Maria Cotera sent to Latino Rebels, Latinx students and their parents were participating in Assisting Latina/os to Maximize Achievements (ALMA), a student-run orientation program for Latinx students and their parents. One of their activities was to paint a rock on their campus, a tradition that was typically observed by white students. It was an important symbolic gesture to let them know they belonged there.
But unfortunately, someone (or a group of people) vandalized the rock, painting over it with hate speech. ALMA’s message was deliberately painted over with white paint and the words “F*ck Latinos and MAGA (Make America Great Again).”
“This event reminds us that no matter how university administrators champion diversity, there are still individuals and groups on campus and off who would prefer that we not exist,” Cotera wrote. “Indeed [they] believe that ‘Making America Great Again’ requires removing all those who do not fit with their understanding of what ‘America’ is.”
The next day (September 2), the university’s vice provost for equity and inclusion published a message of solidarity with the Latinx students, denouncing the vandalism as an “expression of hate,” and saying that it doesn’t represent the University and has no place in their community.
“While the incident is despicable and disappointing, it will not impact my, or my office’s efforts in continuing to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive University community, one where all members, including our Latinx community, have an opportunity to reach their absolute potential,” wrote Dr. Robert Sellers in the statement.
While the statement from the university was helpful, there needs to be more things done to protect students of color on college campuses, particularly at predominantly white institutions. Denouncing racism verbally is one thing, but deliberate action such as efforts to educate the general student body on stereotypes, racial equity, and hate speech would be more productive.