U of M says it will honor 9/11 victims

Despite a rejection of a Student Association resolution calling for a campus-wide moment of recognition on 9/11, the University of Minnesota today said it intends to honor victims of the attacks each year.

The U of M news release today responded to news reports about the Student Association’s vote, which came after MSA representative and Director of Diversity and Inclusion David Algadi said it might inflame anti-Muslim sentiment. But it reaffirmed a statement from the Minnesota Student Association which said the resolution was voted down because of uncertainty about the logistics of a campus-wide moment of recognition.

Here’s the U’s news release:

University of Minnesota Board Chair Dean Johnson and President Eric Kaler today reaffirmed the University’s commitment to honoring the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

This past September the Board of Regents held a moment of silence to remember the victims of 9/11. At that time, Kaler also met with students requesting a campus-wide remembrance of 9/11 and offered his support. He urged the students to bring it to student government to gain additional input.

“Remembering our shared history not only honors the victims of 9/11, but I believe should be a catalyst to bring us together as a community and allows us to advance our mission as an institution of higher education,” said Kaler.

“As a 38-year veteran, former state legislator, pastor, and Regent, I have worked to bring people together and promote greater understanding,” Johnson said. “My colleagues and I who serve on the Board of Regents applaud President Kaler’s leadership to remember the victims of 9/11 and welcome the opportunity it provides for thoughtful and constructive dialogue.”

Last week the Minnesota Student Association—which is an independent student government group — considered and voted down a resolution to establish a remembrance to honor those who died in 9/11. That action has been widely mis-reported and misunderstood. According to a statement from MSA, students rejected the resolution because it was not sufficiently developed and was not specific about plans for the remembrance. Some students also discussed the problem of anti-Muslim sentiment, and concerns were expressed by some that the remembrance not take a shape that would deepen that problem.

MSA leaders have indicated their intent to reconsider this issue, but regardless of MSA’s next steps, the University will move forward with its plans to honor and remember the victims of 9/11.

“Honoring those who died in 9/11 and respecting our Muslim community on campus are not mutually exclusive,” said Kaler. “I am confident that we can create a meaningful remembrance that is inclusive to all on campus. Hateful speech or actions are contrary to our values as a University.”

  • Brian Simon

    Why? Why single out 9/11 and not Boston? Not Columbine? Not Aurora? Not Olympic Park? Sandy Hook? Who can even remember all the victims of senseless tragedy? Perhaps the U, in pursuit of knowledge, ought to promote remembrance of all those, instead.

    • Nick K

      9/11 was orders of magnitude worse than all of the events listed combined. Moreover, 9/11 reshaped this nation (and large parts of the world) as no other American event in the last 20 years.

      • Brian Simon

        But why now? Has something changed at the U where they’ve suddenly realized the ‘need’ for this? It’s not like they’re breaking new ground, or bringing awareness to something of which we’d otherwise be ignorant. Seems to me the MSA made a better decision than the regents.

  • Thomas Mercier

    I feel old writing this…
    I think the youth at the college are probably striving to both honor something for which much of them were too young to meaningfully remember and understand (current 18-21 year olds were 5-9 year olds when 9/11 occurred). While the other events are worth recognizing, they were not to the global breadth, scale or impact of the other tragedies they are being grouped with. Nobody contests the other events aren’t significant.
    Growing up I grasped to comprehend the significance of December 7th and even as a young adult struggled to comprehend while standing above the Arizona. 9/11 is the next generations’ Pearl Harbor. I hope the anti-Muslim rhetoric and emotions subside quickly just as anti-Japanese/German resentment has never really been an issue for my generation.
    Even though I can’t fully appreciate Pearl Harbor I still can recognize that it is a significant event in my country’s history and worth acknowledging briefly once a year to give perspective and appreciate the freedoms and safety I take for granted most days.