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Central Michigan University students speak out after some CMU students and staff used racial slurs

You can find information about upcoming peaceful protests at the bottom of this story.

MT. PLEASANT — Central Michigan University is now investigating two incidents of students and staff from the university using racial slurs.

“What happened over the last 24 hours is not consistent with our values, and we are acting accordingly,” said President on CMU, Bob Davies.


“I saw clips of it. It’s on Instagram and social media. It’s ... outside of our control. But there were individuals that were saying very harmful words,” he adds.

Over the weekend, videos surfaced on social media of students from CMU and other campuses using racial slurs.

“To see my fellow students that’s on campus that are also black being oppressed on this campus, because a few students want to say the N-word on campus for fun and giggles,” says CMU student Mekhia Chapman.

“It’s not OK to me, and it shouldn’t be OK for anybody on this campus at all. Just simple as that. It’s a shame that we have to go through this still in ‘24, in the 21st century,” Chapman adds.


University officials reacted to this incident and are conducting an investigation into these actions of the students.

Davies sent the following message to students following this incident.

“CMU’s Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equity and the CMU Student Conduct office are currently reviewing the video to determine if the individuals involved are CMU students; based on their findings they will investigate and take appropriate action.”

The university also hosted an open listening session to “discuss the video and other bias incidents,” also saying in the email, “We aim to create a space for everyone to feel heard and supported.”


But at that meeting that was supposed to be used as a safe space, a CMU staff member used a racial slur.

“It really shocked me that a staff member of all people would say something like that. And to use it in that context, saying you people like you, you use this word, so why can’t we?” said Armoni.

“You’re supposed to be our role models, you know, and you’re doing this and you’re showing other people that it’s okay when it’s really not,” she adds.

“I was just completely disgusted because this was to make our people feel safe and they just feel less safe,” says Armoni, a freshman at CMU.


Davies said he was surprised to hear what happened.

“But something else had occurred during that that was very hard to take. When I was told of that particular incident, my knees buckled. I am here to support our students, our faculty and our staff. I’m here to make this a place that is safe and secure. And when that occurred, we took very swift action. The individual is on leave and there is an investigation going forward,” he said.

As Davies mentioned, there is an investigation and the staff member is on administrative leave, but students say that is not enough.

“They’re speaking to us like, oh, we’re here for you. Oh, we’re here for the Black community. We hear y’all, We hear you all. You need to act like you hear us because actually speak louder than words. You need to act like you hear us. Because I say y’all step us and you hear us and everything like that. But you’re not hearing us at all,” says Chapman.

“You’re just talking. If you hear us do something, expel these students because they discriminate against a whole community. Fire the person that said the N-word in the meeting when there was supposed to be a safe space, y’all keep on saying all hear us. Do you actually hear us actually speak louder than words? That’s what we were taught as kids,” adds Chapman.

Some students say when they came to CMU they felt differently than they do now.

“It made me feel really uncomfortable and unsafe, honestly. Like first in the beginning of the year, you know, like I felt like this was like a really good place to be as a minority, you know, like it felt so together. But now it feels divided,” said Armoni.

One student even transferred from a school in Virginia, she says she’s not used to these issues.

“I feel very uncomfortable. I just transferred from a historically black college. I went to Virginia State University,” said Chapman.

“We’re not used to going through something like this as a big issue on campus where people are just saying racial slurs. Not even just people, students, staff, faculty, all saying this is making all not just me and not just my roommate, but every black student and every black person on this campus. Very uncomfortable feeling, very safe, unsafe,” she adds.

Some students that do not identify with the multicultural community say that they may not feel the direct impact of those words said, but they also say that they understand the significance, and why their fellow classmates are hurt and feel unsafe.

“I feel unsafe for her because I’m like, I’m like, first is going to be just targeting people of that minority and then it’s going to be targeting the people that help that minority rights. The sort of with that, you know, there was a safe space that was supposed to be held for students to be able to talk about the videos that surfaced around,” said CMU freshman Sarah, who is a friend and roommate of Armoni.

And for students who do not identify with the multicultural community and want to show your support, Mekhia says there are ways to support.

“If you have Black friends? I don’t care if you have a Black friend or a Black lover in your life or anybody like that. Even if you have a Black teacher, speak up. We need more voices. We are the minority on this campus. We need more voices for us to speak up. We need help. We all have to speak up because, yes, we have this little black community on campus and we’re speaking up for ourselves. But if you know it’s wrong and then you want to do something about it, speak up for us,” she said.

But the pain goes beyond the words that were said, some students say that they are being harassed on campus ever since the incident occurred.

“To add to it like it was people being harassed on campus because of the incident,” said Armoni.

Her friend even offered to walk her to class.

“My best friend, she feels unsafe. She feels uncomfortable in a situation like this. And I had a long talk with her. I was like, if you want me to walk you to class, if you want me to do whatever you need me to do, I will be there because it’s just sad that people can’t understand the point of not to do things that would hurt other people,” said Sarah.

Two safe spaces were held today again for students to be able to talk about these incidents that occurred, but many did not feel safe attending knowing what occurred at the prior meeting, but President Davies said he is here to listen to those students.

“It’s hard for students. And every student is an individual. We want to respond to the individual. So, there is no one size fits all answer. It is about having those relationships and those discussions. Over the past 34 hours, I’ve had several discussions with individual students,” said Davies.

Students of CMU will be hosting three separate protests on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Wednesday, April 17 protest: Bovee University Center Lawn, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Thursday, April 18 protest: Bovee University Center Lawn, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Saturday, April 20 protest: Bovee University Center Lawn, 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

These protests are peaceful protests and demonstrations are advocating for change.

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