Note: This story has been edited to add details from the protest.
Members of the University of Michigan’s governing board spoke out against a protest that disrupted the start of Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting in the Michigan Union, calling it misguided and damaging to the cause of the protesters.
About 15 protesters surged toward the board table, toppling the media table and knocking laptops and personal items to the floor. U-M police officers quickly stepped in to stop the protesters.
Division of Public Safety and Security spokesperson Diane Brown reported that eight protesters were arrested. One of those arrested may be a U-M student. No one reported significant injuries.
The protestors made no specific statements prior to rushing university leaders just seconds into the meeting, so the issues they wanted to bring up were unclear. It appeared they were part of an ongoing effort pushing for larger minority enrollment at U-M.
During the scuffle, and later in the hallway outside the meeting, protesters chanted, “Minority enrollment’s going down. Open it up or we’ll shut it down.” Some carried signs calling for action to increase minority enrollment.
Once protesters were escorted from the meeting room, the meeting resumed after a 10-minute delay and was completed as scheduled. The protesters’ chants from the hallway could be heard through the remainder of the meeting.
Regent Mark Bernstein said he was “deeply disappointed” by the protesters. He called their actions “misguided and damaging to their cause, adding that their actions were a “great disservice to an important cause” of increasing minority enrollment.
Regent Andrea Fischer Newman said the action today “turned the story away from what is most important” on a serious issue.
President Mark Schlissel ended the meeting by thanking DPSS personnel for managing the protesters and reiterating the university’s long-standing commitment to enrolling a diverse student body.
“I hope we will strive toward civil discourse and constructive action. The university’s commitment to diversity does not waver and I’m pleased with how the university has come together to undertake the work of developing a campuswide diversity strategic plan,” Schlissel said.