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ALBION – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette was targeted Apr. 4 by student protesters demanding his resignation from the board of Albion College.
Albion College students say they want Schuette to resign from the Board of Trustees of the small liberal arts college in Calhoun county. They say Schuette’s decision to appeal last month’s federal court ruling striking down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the college’s non-discrimination policy and mission statement.
“Sadly, Trustee Schuette, in his capacity as the Attorney General of Michigan, has proven that he does not share the value of deep mutual respect, nor does he celebrate or support equality of all members of the Albion community,” a statement distributed by the students reads. “Through his deliberate exclusion of gender and sexuality minority students in his discussion of discrimination policies, our Trustee Schuette has contributed to the erasure of LGBTQI community and proven time and again that he is out of step with the community, our values and our needs.”
The statement further notes that Schuette is not a good “ally” and should resign.
The protest lasted several hours in 40 degree weather and cold drizzle. The group ranged from 12 to 20 participants throughout the protest.
Shortly before 3 p.m. Albion College Interim President Mike Frandsen stopped to talk to protesters. He told them “your concerns have been shared with [the Board of Trustees].”
Sarah Briggs, associate vice president of communications for Albion College, declined to answer any questions about the protest, or Schuette’s position on the board. She did, however, note that Schuette was appointed in 1998, several years after the College adopted its non-discrimination policy in the 1991-92 academic year.
Katelyn Tonge is one of the students who helped organize the protest.
“I think we were heard, especially by our fellow students, which was the most important thing. After hearing so much about this issue around campus, I was surprised how many students asked for more information and seemed really receptive to our message,” Tonge said by email following the protests. “We had an amazing group of students, who were and continue to be extremely committed to our cause.”
Tonge, however, says the group is concerned about the response from the administration.
“They haven’t talked about it to the campus either. That is one of the many reasons we had the protest. Students and alumni were vocally upset and the college just hasn’t addressed it,” Tonge said. “It doesn’t bode well that they haven’t participated in the discussion. We have been told that the board has heard our concerns, but what does that mean?”
Equality Michigan Executive Director Emily Dievendorf was on hand for part of the protest. She praised the student organized and executed protests.
“Our students are our future leaders and scholars. In openly demonstrating against Schuette holding a leadership position at the school, Albion students were saying that his role at Albion is in conflict with the stated values of the learning institution and is a threat to Albion’s ability to be an affirming environment that can produce leaders that can compete and thrive in the world,” Dievendorf said. “Albion students see that the attorney general has quite clearly deemed them ‘less than’ and yet he is making decisions on their behalf. They are, appropriately, fighting for themselves as their own board member has declared himself a roadblock to their most basic human rights.”