I recently learned that well known University of Michigan campus activist Sam Woll has joined Michigamua, an organization I have spent time publishing information about on my website. To complicate matters, we have a personal relationship and I consider her a friend. I have decided I must publish it — as I publish all names — and have invited her to submit a statement to go with this informaiton. That statement is below.
I published a few names last summer: Lisa Yang, Dana Baki, Antonina Nina Catalfio, Jaya Soni, Neal Pancholi. To add to that list now in addition to Sam is Brian Hull.
Sam will do doubt complain that aligning her photo with the 1966 photo of the all white male class in faux headresses is unfair. I would argue not: Michigamua has racked up a history so extreme and blatantly racist they cannot be reformed in the way Sam thinks it can be.
I’m extremely disappointed in her, as I am in every “leader” who believes Michigamua is a benevolent force. I believe it is a hurtful remnant of an era of accepted institutionalized racism and bastion of elitism in privilege on a campus which I would hope to make more democratic.
Here is her statement:
Personal Statement from Sam for use on Goodspeedupdate.com:
* Please publish this statement verbatim. You do not have my permission to publish any excerpt from the following statement and may only use it in its entirety. Thank you *
Yes, I am a member of Michigamua. I joined this organization in order to work with other leaders on campus to serve the University. I know that my membership may be a surprise to many people. However, I saw potential to continue to drive positive changes within Michigamua in order to better serve campus and truly represent a diverse group of leaders committed to
making the University a better place. Additionally, I acknowledge and recognize the organization’s past including the painful parts of its history.
I hope that the fact that I am in Michigamua will not lead you to question the sincerity of any of my past and future involvements on campus. Anyone who knows me and my passionate commitment to working for social justice knows that I would never be a part of organization that would betray these principles. I am still proud to be a capital “F” Feminist, Jew, Democrat,
strong supporter of Affirmative Action and member of the student coalition to cut the University’s contracts with Coca-Cola corporation.
Although there are still many misconceptions about Michigamua, we are diligently working on ways to communicate recent changes and efforts to the larger University community. My intention in this statement is to let you know that I am committed to both Michigamua and other organizations that I have always been committed to on campus. This was not an easy
decision for me and it took meticulous discretion. I invite those who wish to further understand my decision to email me at swoll (at) umich.edu. Please include a phone number if you so choose and I will do my best to speak with you in person. Thank you.
When people like Sam join I feel as if I have failed to adaquetly explain the true history and impact of the organization. The story is not without a bright spot, however — the decisions to join made by Sam, Jaya, Neal and others have forced their respective organizations to learn about and deal proactively with the organization. Furthermore, there is a documentary being made about the organization and I am optimistic the Daily will continue to cover the controversies under their new leadership.