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Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh speaks during his introductory press conference at the Junge Family Champions Center in Ann Arbor on Dec. 30, 2014. (Patrick Record | The Ann Arbor News)

U of M Coach Under Fire

University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh met Wednesday afternoon with a group of students upset with a tweet in support of the film “American Sniper”

The meeting, confirmed by U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald, was attended by Harbaugh and “about 15 students,” along with U-M interim athletic director Jim Hackett and vice president for student life Royster Harper.

The meeting was described by U-M as an opportunity for Harbaugh to sit down with “a small group of Muslim students” who protested the university’s showing of the movie, and upset by Harbaugh’s public support of the film.

The meeting was confirmed by Fitzgerald as “a good discussion” in which it is claimed that Harbaugh was “glad he was able to meet with the students.”

“We don’t have anything else to share about this private discussion,” Fitzgerald added, also saying that the meeting had been scheduled “for several weeks”

The meeting was sparked by a tweet sent by Harbaugh on April 8th in response to outcries on campus regarding “American Sniper,” Clint Eastwood’s controversial movie based on the autobiography of United States Navy Seal Chris Kyle.

Michigan Football will watch “American Sniper”! Proud of Chris Kyle & Proud to be an American & if that offends anybody then so be it!

-coach Harbaugh (@coachJim4UM) April 9th, 2015

The tweet was amid protests both for and against the film being shown at a University of Michigan function. The discontent then prompted U-M to cancel a showing of the critically acclaimed film, then backtrack, calling the decision to cancel a “mistake.”

The film was originally scheduled to be shown during a “UMix Late Night” program, nearly 300 protestors spoke out, saying the film perpetuates “negative and misleading stereotypes against Muslims.

Following complaints, the U-M Center for Campus Involvement announced it wouldn’t be showing the movie at the event, which was followed by a decision to screen the film at an undetermined date with a post-viewing panel focused on reflection and dialogue.

The cancellation stirred its own backlash, with students and faculty rallying for the film to be shown, including a petition and hundreds of comments on the Center for Campus Involvement’s Facebook page.

That’s when Harbaugh posted his tweet at 9:38 p.m. on april 8th. It has since been retweeted more than 32,000 times and “favorited” over 38,000 times.

That same night, a university spokesperson released a statement stating that “it was a mistake to cancel” a showing of “American Sniper” and that the film would be shown as originally scheduled.

“The initial decision to cancel the movie was not consistent with the high value of the University of Michigan places on freedom of expression and our respect for the rights of students to make their own choices in such matters,” E. Royster Haper, University of Michigan vice president for student life, said in the statement.

On April 10th, two movies – “Paddington” and “American Sniper” – were shown at “UMix Late Night.” There were no major protests at the Michigan Union that night, and approximately 150 students viewed “American Sniper”

The meeting between Harbaugh and members of U-M’s Muslim student body was first reported Tuesday by The College Fix.

What are your thoughts on the movie “American Sniper”? Let me know!

About Nick Thornton

Nick Thornton
Nick Thornton is a talented freelance writer based in Ottawa. He writes for several blogs and news sources. He has lot's of hobbies, such as reading, writing, exploring various coffee shops and bars across Ottawa, and enjoying live music. His writing is always easy & fun read as he delivers hard hitting news, and only the truth. Contact Nick: nick.thornton@youthindependent.com