On Wednesday the University of Michigan, together with the school’s Black Student Union, announced a new initiative to increase black student enrollment at the school by making the university a more welcoming place for black students. The plan is the result of a months-long conversation between administrators and students after the BSU set off a Twitter storm late last year when the student group kicked off the hashtag #BBUM (for Being Black at University of Michigan), asking black students at the school to speak up about their experiences with racial hostility on campus.
The Detroit News reported the details of the plan:
As a way of increasing diversity on campus, U-M will partner with black students at university-sponsored events that encourage African-Americans who have been admitted to the U-M to enroll.
U-M also will launch a pilot transportation project for black students living in more affordable housing outside Ann Arbor; earmark $300,000 to improve security at the Trotter Multicultural Center; and create a website for emergency funds available to students.
Other initiatives include creating a multicultural center on central campus, since the current facility used by BSU and other minority groups is off campus. A new program will be provided to all resident halls this fall to enhance understanding of race and ethnicity.
Additionally, university officials have begun digitizing documents at the Bentley Historical Library about U-M’s Black Action Movement — a series of protests at the university about black student recruitment, enrollment and experience that began in the 1970s.
"The students raised issues that absolutely needed to be dealt with and provided valuable insight on ways to effect change," University of Michigan Provost Martha Pollack said, the Detroit News reported. "We are grateful to each student for his or her willingness to engage in this important dialogue. Through their personal commitment to the work, the administration has deepened its understanding of the students’ experiences."
Let this be a comfort to those weary of "hashtag activism" of late. Conversations that start on Twitter can open up space for productive offline conversations–and concrete positive changes. Check out