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The ACLU stands up for four EMU students facing disciplinary action for protest

Nov 18, 2016

UPDATED @ 5:46 pm on 11/18/2016

Eastern Michigan University has delivered a punishment to four student protestors, but the ACLU wants the disciplinary action to be dropped.

The four African American students were protesting racist graffiti targeting Black students discovered on campus earlier this fall at EMU.

The students broke the school's student code of conduct by staging a sit in at the Student Center after hours, which yielded the threat of expulsion.

Those students were handed their punishment today, but it has not yet been made public.

Michael Steinberg, the Legal Director of ACLU of Michigan, wrote a letter to EMU’s president James Smith.

Steinberg made it clear that ACLU doesn’t believe any action should be taken against the four students.

“There should be no discipline of the students,” Steinberg says. “We think that the students have really been the victims here of racist attacks.”

“Students of color are exposed to what amounts to a racially hostile educational environment,” he says.

Steinberg wants the university to work with the ACLU in regards to helping these students.

“The university should join as allies with the students, working with them as opposed to trying to punish them,” he says.

There were three separate instances of racist graffiti appearing on EMU's campus this fall. No arrests have been made yet. The campus police are offering $10,000 for information on the perpetrators of the three incidents.

Eastern Michigan University Executive Director of Media Relations, Geoff Larcom, sent this statement to Michigan Radio.

"Due to federal privacy laws, the University does not discuss individual cases involving students, and as such we cannot provide any further detail on the outcome of any cases.

"Eastern Michigan University encourages our students to exercise the right to express their views on matters of public importance and matters that are important to them. EMU has always and will continue to support the rights of our students to peacefully demonstrate on issues of importance to them.

"Over the past two months, the University has worked diligently with our students to manage the protests peacefully, and with a great level of appreciation and respect for students’ anger and frustration over the incidents that have occurred."

This story was updated to include a statement from the university.