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Students march to Davies' house, demand change at CMU

Students walk on the sidewalk Sept. 18 during the NAP protest.

Central Michigan University President Bob Davies's house was quiet when members of the "Leadership for Liberation March and Rally" first arrived.

The group of about 25 people was met by five police officers, who stood on Davies' driveway. As the protesters approached police, the group broke into song.

"Which side are you on now? Which side are you on?" they sang.

The group of students, alumni and a faculty member called for the suspension of face-to-face classes, protection of CMU employees and mandated anti-racism training, among other demands. 

The protest was organized by Portage senior Amethyst Stewart and Flushing senior Emily Jones.

"We're marching today to make our voices heard, to hold truth to power, agitate our leadership, to stand in solidarity with allies, for our co-liberation and to fight for our lives," Jones, the president of New America Project said.

The protest began at the Bovee University Center. The crowd marched briskly to Davies' house as police cruisers tracked their route along the way.

Meanwhile, Stewart met with Davies to address her demands. When the group arrived at his house, Jones read a statement from Stewart about how the university and police responded differently to parties based on race.

"As CMU becomes an anti-racist institution, it is critical to analyze the response to students," the statement read. 

Jones also read a statement from Ashkii Abini Naatsiilid Wilson, vice president of the North American Indigenous Student Organization, regarding the impacts of COVID-19 on the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.

"Because we are going to school in a community that has a reservation nearby, we must put our personal interests aside to keep them safe," Wilson's statement read. "At the end of the semester, we can leave here and go home, but they must deal with whatever outbreak we have caused with our carelessness."

Jones shared her personal experience coming from a family that has emotional and financial stress without healthcare. She said the psychological impact COVID-19 had on her family was indescribable.

CMU alumnus Duncan Tierney brought his perspective as a former student employee. He said he feels the university fails to protect students of color and ensure the safety and health of its staff. 

"I'm so sick of being polite and seeing people be polite about the horrors that go on within the school, largely due to the improprieties that Black and brown students have to face as laborers, students and residents," Tierney said. "That s**t's done. Please don't be too polite to this president, because I did that for four years."

The #NOTFiredUpForFall campaign initially started as a petition to suspend in-person classes, which received approximately 1,000 signatures. During the summer, NAP dropped off the petition with 600 signatures to Davies' office.

The following day, the university stood behind the #FiredUpForFall campaign on social media. This inspired NAP's counter-campaign, which involved a "banner drop" on campus.

After the demonstration, the group returned to campus and dissolved at about 6:30 p.m. 

Jones said the "Leadership for Liberation" protest served as the next stage of "escalation." She said the group does not intend to stop until their demands are recognized and acted upon.