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"I will not be intimidated": UM regents respond to protests at their homes demanding divestment

ANN ARBOR, MI/USA - OCTOBER 20, 2017: Michigan Stadium sign on the campus of the University of Michigan.
Ken Wolter/wolterke -
Michigan Stadium sign on the campus of the University of Michigan.

Two regents of the University of Michigan commented at Thursday's regularly scheduled board meeting about protests that took place at their homes early Wednesday morning.

The board meeting is usually held in person; this time it was Zoom-only.

Regent Mark Bernstein said the student protesters tacked a list of demands to his and most of his colleagues' front doors, focusing on the university's response to Israel's war on Hamas.

Bernstein called it a dangerous escalation of protests and demonstrations that have been held on campus.

"Nobody should ever encounter a masked and hooded man on the front porch of their home in the early morning making demands that the university divest from Israel and defund the police," he said. "I will not be intimidated by these provocative tactics, nor will my colleagues on this board, nor will this institution."

Sarah Hubbard, chair of the Board of Regents, said about 30 protesters put tents and other objects on her front lawn and used bullhorns to disrupt the neighborhood at around 6 a.m. Wednesday. She called the protest "inappropriate," since protesters have other ways of getting their viewpoints heard by the university, including at regents meetings.

Hubbard said the university would not be meeting the demands listed in the notices tacked to the regents' front doors. Those demands included divesting its endowment from investments related to Israel, establishing a "People's Audit" of university investments, and boycotting Israeli academic institutions.

Hubbard said the university would also not abolish the campus police department.

"I can assure you I will not be voting to abolish campus policing," Hubbard said. "I believe that our campus police are some of the most important partners we have to help keep our students, faculty, staff and everyone else in our campus community safe. This is a non-starter with me and my colleagues."

A statement at the university's Public Affairs website said three student groups claimed responsibility on social media for the protests at regents' homes, including Jewish Voice for Peace at the University of Michigan, Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, and the Transparency, Accountability, Humanity, Reparations, Investment, Resistance (Tahrir) Coalition.

Michigan Public left messages with the groups requesting comment, but did not hear back before this story's publication.

The University of Michigan holds the broadcast license of Michigan Public.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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