To: University of Minnesota Administration, President Kaler
From: PASA, HSOCA, GSPEC, HISA, Amineh Safi and Octavia Smith.
In the wake of the defacement of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) panel on the Washington Avenue Bridge and the anti-Muslim flyering campaign targeting the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP UMN), we write to condemn these hateful acts, to support Muslim students targeted by these acts, and to demand action on the part of the University administration.
As a University community, we must seek to understand, appreciate, and celebrate the differences of our diverse and vibrant student body. Yet in a tense political and social climate, rife with Islamophobia, these acts stand in contrast with the community we seek to create together and our core principles of diversity and inclusion. Violence against Muslims across the country reveals a hateful reality; that anti-Muslim rhetoric and acts do not exist in a vacuum. These hateful actions promote violence against Muslims and create a setting in which Muslim students are no longer able to feel safe on campus. The bare minimum standard that must be demanded of the University of Minnesota is a safe educational space for all students. It is the duty of the University administration to respond with action when this standard is threatened.
The mainstreaming of bigotry has impacted our community. Unfortunately we have seen hate manifest itself first in words, now in actions. No speech that condones or promotes violence should be accepted on our campus. The University of Minnesota has an obligation to protect all students from hate speech. Many of our students here at the Humphrey School are outraged; Muslim students are outraged. While we appreciate letters sent out by the administration, we would like to see action in conjunction with these words. We can hold those accountable by holding the University of Minnesota accountable. We urge the University to seek and take appropriate action against the individuals responsible for gross violation of safety and perpetuation of Islamophobia. In order to take proactive measures to address this issue, we request that religious education, along with race, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnic diversity be addressed at orientation activities that are offered to students as a statement of our shared commitment to these values.
An immediate and easy solution to address safety concerns would be to set up cameras inside the Washington Avenue bridge to deter and hold accountable individuals who participate in this kind of behavior. Moreover, it is essential to the well-being of the university community that safe spaces to discuss issues on a regular basis be provided year around.