DETROIT — The ACLU of Michigan today sent a letter to Eastern Michigan University urging administrators to halt expulsion proceedings against four African-American students who organized a sit-in to protest racist graffiti being spray painted on campus buildings.

“Public universities should be places where students are encouraged to engage in the political process and where the protection of the free exchange of ideas is at its zenith,” the letter reads. "Instead of threatening to expel these students, the University should thank them for standing up in the face of environment of hate and working to make EMU a more welcoming place for students of color."

The letter was addressed to EMU President James M. Smith. It was authored by Michael J. Steinberg, Legal Director of the ACLU of Michigan, and ACLU of Michigan Racial Justice Project attorney Mark Fancher.

The letter comes on the heels of a spate of terms like "KKK" and racial epithets being scrawled on campus buildings in recent months. In early November, several EMU students gathered in the EMU student center to peacefully express their concerns over the racist vandalism. After the protest ended, students began to receive notices that they were facing disciplinary action.