Photo from CNN

To All Members of the University of Michigan Community:

The University of Michigan is preparing to begin another academic year while members of our community and nation are processing the tragic events in Charlottesville, Va. last week.

As the aftermath of that hateful and deadly violence continues to unfold, I want to express my support to all who cherish the values of peace, tolerance, equality, and unity in our nation.

The actions of the hate groups and white supremacists who caused death and injury in Charlottesville are a horrific reminder that there are those among us who would use our differences in the name of evil. Their despicable bigotry is antithetical to our values at the University of Michigan and to all we hold dear as an academic community.

Just this week, some of our community members were subjected to bigotry when someone wrote racist graffiti in a bathroom at the U-M Biological Station near Pellston, Michigan. U-M Police are investigating that incident.

The next two weeks will see thousands of students moving back to Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint. I hope we will all take the time to consider how the Charlottesville tragedy and other hateful and terrorist attacks profoundly affect members of our community.

There is no doubt that the effects of such violence on human health are both real and heartbreaking. We have seen students, faculty and staff at U-M deeply hurt by previous attacks here on campus as well as elsewhere in the United States and abroad.

In response to the Charlottesville tragedy, the national Association of University and College Counseling Center Directors said, “as college mental health professionals, we have long known that hatred and bigotry and the perpetration of racial and bias-motivated violence are harmful to EVERYONE’S mental and physical health.” Further the professionals in our U-M Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office note:

Since this is just the most recent of many situations that have demonstrated hatred toward marginalized groups, we must acknowledge the frustration, exhaustion, rage and other feelings that grow with each event.  We speak out against all hate, prejudice, bigotry and every “ism.”

CAPS offers services to any U-M Ann Arbor student who needs counseling or who may need to talk about their reactions to tragic events. The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP) offers assistance to faculty and staff.

The day after the Charlottesville tragedies, members of the broader U-M and Ann Arbor communities assembled on the Diag for a vigil commemorating the victims and calling for an end to bigotry and hate. I hope we will always continue to embrace unity and peace. These are the ideals we strive to live up to at the University of Michigan, and they represent the values that have brought us all together at our 200-year-old public university.


Mark Schlissel