Media Contact

Ann Mullen, 313-400-8562, 

April 24, 2024


DETROIT, Mich. - The ACLU of Michigan is aware that University of Michigan students have joined other university communities across the nation in setting up a peaceful tent encampment on the Diag, the University’s most prominent public space.    

This peaceful assembly of tents in public areas is a form of expression that is entitled to significant constitutional protection, particularly coming at a difficult moment with ongoing nationwide conversation and debate about the crisis in Israel and Palestine.   

While we are aware of a police presence around the Diag, we are glad to see that there has not been any significant police or University escalation against the student protesters. The ACLU applauds and appreciates this restraint, and we encourage the University and local police departments to continue along this path.  For the administration, this also represents a commendable step towards cultivating an appropriately tolerant approach to student-led dissent.  

The police currently near the protest should limit their involvement to ensuring that the protest, as well as any counter-protests, can continue peacefully and safely.  An excessive police presence can unnecessarily escalate tensions, which is why we urge that police presence be proportionate to the actual needs of the situation. 

It has been long recognized by the courts that universities lie at the center of our intellectual and philosophic tradition, and the University and its students have a rich and long history of exemplifying this tradition through campus protest. Engaging with student activism and grappling with different, even painful, ideas and world views is an essential part of the University learning experience, and University administrators have a responsibility to allow students to openly express their political views—especially when those views are critical of the University.  

Of course, all students deserve equal access to education, free from discrimination based on religion, race, and ethnicity. Schools have a responsibility to keep students protected from violence and discrimination as well as from censorship. Thus, administrative regulation of student protest should be limited to protecting community members from real violence and discrimination based on religion, race, ethnicity, and other protected classes.   

The ACLU also encourages students to obtain and review their schools’ policies regarding demonstrations and protests, and to otherwise know their rights