Violence in the Middle East & Campus Climate

Updated Dec. 5, 2023

Subject: U-M statement regarding CSG resolutions and ongoing campus tensions

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

As the violence in Gaza and Israel enters its third month, many at the University of Michigan are truly hurting. Some have seen friends or family members killed. Others with ties to the region worry what the future will look like after so much suffering. Still others in our community have been afflicted by the hatred and prejudice that still drives us apart and torments our world.

In one particular instance, two of our students have been targeted, slandered, and harassed after being accused of stealing a list of campus emails. Let me be clear – the allegations against these two women are unequivocally false. The university email system was not hacked. Not only are the claims spurious; they are dangerous. The students have faced angry calls for their expulsion, hateful intimidation and physical threats.

It needs to stop.

The issues raised by the ongoing violence in the Middle East are ripping our community apart, pitting one group against another and engendering very real fears about safety and security on our campus.

Nationwide, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Anti-Defamation League have both reported significant increases in bias events targeting members of the Jewish, Palestinian, Muslim, and Arab communities and allies to these communities since Oct. 7. Incidents have included online hatred and gun violence as well as physical assaults and homicide. The rise in hateful prejudice across our country and the world must not gain footing in our own community.

It needs to stop.

After great thought and input, one significant step we are taking is to disallow any future votes on two controversial and divisive Central Student Government resolutions – AR 13-025 and AR 13-026 – related to ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza. The proposed resolutions have done more to stoke fear, anger and animosity on our campus than they would ever accomplish as recommendations to the university.

Additionally, the proposals have generated an involuntary and unwarranted amount of outside negative attention on a community whose primary objective is to learn, to teach, to research and to serve.

It needs to stop.

I have heard you. The university leadership has heard you. We’ve heard your voices through the content of the petitions, through the thousands of email messages, and through the numerous rallies, protests and vigils.

We continue to hear you.

In the coming weeks I, and my leadership team, will schedule meetings with student leaders on varying sides of this issue to discuss real and tangible ways for our university to address the concerns. This is a commitment and a promise.

Each of us hopes for peace. Each of us desires justice. In the tradition of my own faith, I ask that each of us also considers how we can best love our neighbors as ourselves as we close out the remainder of the semester and move forward as a campus community.

Sincerely,

Santa J. Ono

President

Endorsed by the following members of the University of Michigan Board of Regents:

Regent Jordan B. Acker
Regent Michael J. Behm
Regent Mark J. Bernstein
Regent Paul W. Brown
Regent Sarah Hubbard
Regent Denise Ilitch
Regent Ron Weiser


This week, November 28-30, Central Student Government is holding its midterm elections.

During this voting period, students will have the opportunity to vote for new representatives to the CSG Assembly from their respective schools and colleges as well as vote on a number of other matters. Two petitions related to the ongoing violence in the Middle East are included on the ballot.

Because of the atypical nature of this year’s ballot and because of climate concerns, detailed information about the two petitions and CSG’s voting process can be found on CSG’s website.

Things to note from the University of Michigan

  • Central Student Government operates independently of the university’s administration and does not act or speak on behalf of  the institution.
  • CSG resolutions aimed at the university administration are advisory in nature and the university is not required to take any action.
  • CSG governs itself through a democratic process.
  • The student body is able, but not required, to vote through the CSG process to decide whether any or the resolutions are adopted.

Presidential Video Message

Resources for students 

Resources for faculty and staff 

Campus Safety

The University of Michigan’s deep commitment to free expression does not extend to speech or conduct that violates the law or university policy, including targeted speech that involves bullying, defamation, destruction of property, harassment, or threats. And there are many avenues for reporting threatening behavior or violence.

The university also will not tolerate unequal treatment of students based on their beliefs. Our institution has a deep and ongoing commitment to respecting differing life experiences, perspectives and backgrounds.

U-M has put in place a number of interventions to assure the continuity of education in the safest manner possible. These measures include the following:

  • The Division of Public Safety and Security has increased its presence during campus events to ensure the safety of everyone involved. DPSS also maintains contact with state, local and federal partners regarding current events and any potential impact to our community from external sources.
  • The Office of the Provost is working with school and college leaders to address allegations of inappropriate conduct and timely corrective action is taken, if warranted.
  • The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching has created resources to assist faculty in managing classroom discussions, including, for example, Guidelines for Discussing Difficult or High-Stakes Topics and Strategies for Managing Hot Moments in the Classroom.

Upholding Our Values

The university unequivocally condemns the deliberate harassment and targeting of members of our community by doxxing, a dangerous form of online intimidation, or any other violation of privacy.

Doxxing is the sharing of phone numbers, home addresses, identification numbers and other sensitive and previously private information, such as personal photos, that could make an individual identifiable and potentially exposed to further harassment, humiliation and real-life threats including stalking and unwanted encounters in-person.

Many individuals, including students and faculty, have been subject to these attacks by third parties.

We celebrate the diversity of thought and ideas that thrive within our university, therefore it is essential we uphold the principles of open dialogue and intellectual freedom. These principles are the foundation of our academic community, fostering an environment where individuals can express their opinions without fear of reprisal or harassment.

We embrace a diversity of perspectives, recognizing that it is through the exchange of ideas that we collectively grow and learn. Respectful discourse is fundamental to the development of critical thinking and a robust academic community.

To that end, we will work directly with those within our community who are individually targeted to offer resources and support and assist in any way possible to address the harm. Those who experience incidents where they believe their safety has been affected are directed to contact DPSS to make a report. Reports of Campus Climate Concerns can be filed through the Dean of Students Office. If students, faculty or staff want to report incidents anonymously, they may file a Campus Climate Report through the Dean of Students Office.

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