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Archive for December, 2016

UMN Walkout: Oppose Trump! Oppose Kaler’s Trumped Up Policies | Friday, January 20th | 1:00PM | Humphrey School 

Students for a Democratic Society, in coalition with the Resist from Day One Coalition MN will be organizing a campus walkout. Walkout/meetup @ Humphrey School on the West Bank at 1pm. We will have a short rally and then march to converge with Augsburg Student Groups @ 19th & Riverside at 1:45 – then marching to Franklin & Chicago to meet up with the BLACK SNAKE RESISTANCE MARCH. From there, we will all march to attend the larger Resist From Day One! Mega-March and Rally and then converge on city hall at 5pm.

UMN Student Walkout Endorsed and Organized by:
Students for a Democratic Society at UMN
Feminist Student Activist Collective
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP UMN)
La Raza Student Cultural Center
Minnesota Socialist Students
UMN Medical Students for Choice
U-MIRAC (UMN MN Immigrant Rights Action Committee)
Whose Diversity? – Minnesota
Queer Devil Worshippers for a Better Future @ UMN Morris
15 for Student Workers
Feminists in Action – Students Together Against Rape and Sexual Assault (FIA-STARSA) at Macalester
Al-Madinah Cultural Center

Augsburg Student Orgs:
Augsburg Day Student Government
Brotherhood of Successful Scholars – BOSS
Black Feminist in Media
Students for Racial Justice Ausburg College – SRJ
Hmong Women Together
International Student Organization
Muslim Student Association (Augsburg)
Pan-Afrikan Student Union
Queer Indigenous + People of Color
Augsburg Asian Student Association – AASA
AISA – Augsburg Indigenous Student Association
Augsburg Latin American Students – ALAS
Augsburg’s SMART – Sexual Misconduct Awareness-Raising Team
Augsburg College Queer Pride Alliance

We as students of the University of Minnesota have been dealing with a Trumpster administration for years. While we know that our university’s president, Eric Kaler, is capable of doing the right thing under certain conditions, like firing rape-apologist & Gopher football head coach, Tracy Claeys, we also know that the past few years have been riddled with scandals on Kaler’s watch. And we also know that there is no progress without a demand!
(see full SDS statement on our support of Kaler firing Tracy Claeys here:https://umnsds.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/sds-statement-on-the-minnesota-gophers-football-boycott-and-sexual-assault/)

Under Eric Kaler, we’ve seen known sexual assaulters hired and eventually paid off, we’ve seen racist and xenophobic attacks on campus declaring a need to “build the wall,” calling Muslims “ISIS” and Palestinians terrorists, which all came with the president’s seal of approval of free speech, and, as a contradiction, seen progressive activists arrested and aggressively charged and fined for speaking up. Under President Kaler, we’ve seen intrusions into the student government’s decisions on whether to divest from Israeli Apartheid, investing university money to union bust against faculty and student worker unionization efforts, the valuing of research profits well above the cost of human lives, and allowing the mental health of students to go almost entirely unsupported amidst constant backlash and tragedy. We’ve seen the pockets of overpaid and unneeded administrators growing increasingly thick with the skyrocketing tuition of working class students and students of color who have to bust ass everyday just to be at our university in the first place.

Much like President Kaler, a Trump presidency is the continuation of an anti-people force that has been growing and festering in this country for centuries, and we won’t let it succeed. We’re going to hit these streets and show them what we think of their racism, their xenophobia, their sexism, transphobia, homophobia. We’re going to dare to struggle, and dare to win.

On January 20th, Students for a Democratic Society will send a message to Presidents Kaler and Trump of what we think of them with a student walkout, meeting at the Humphrey school at 1:00pm to demand our university be declared a sanctuary campus, to demand our administration accept radical pay cuts and freeze and lower tuition, to demand our campus reflect the diverse community it’s situated amongst, and that President Kaler step down as president of our university. Marching , we’ll join MIRAC and show President-elect, racist Trump what we think of his administration too.

If you Dare to Struggle, you Dare to Win!

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On Thursday, December 17th, the University of Minnesota’s football team collectively agreed to boycott all football activities, including their upcoming bowl game, in response to allegations that 10 members of their team were connected to a sexual assault investigation. Roughly 24 hours later, the team has rescinded their boycott, provided an obtuse apology for it and have stated conviction to use their status as football players to represent the values and ethics of the University.

While many can agree it is a victory that the football team came to their senses and stopped making, yet another, public blasphemy of our University, what developed in those 24 hours will be a stain on the players, the families, the coaches, and the entire football program for weeks, months and likely years to come.

The values, virtues and truth-seeking of our University were called into question not only by the behavior of the players when they announced the boycott, but also by their families. These students used their status as football players with a bowl game in the near future to attempt to back President Kaler into a corner and demand the Title IX investigation, a federally mandated investigation, be put to an end. They disregarded that they were throwing into the public sphere the real, terrifying possibility that a woman was gang-raped the morning of September 2nd by members of their team. They disregarded the fact that investigations occur because there is an allegation of a criminal offense and that those who are victimized deserve justice too. Instead, they petulantly determined that they were somehow the victims and they did not want anyone snooping around in their business anymore.

To add to this horror is the very fact that their parents and head coach, Tracy Claeys, stood up for them at a time where more understanding of the events were trying to be processed by the public at large. In a tweet, many were shocked to see Tracy Claeys write, “Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world!” Antoine Winfield Sr., father of one of the teams’ players, also demanded that the investigation cease and that Kaler and and Athletic Director Mark Coyle, lose their jobs or else he is pulling his kid out of the University.

As a campus student organization that has advocated for the replacement of Eric Kaler for a range of reasons, this is NOT one of them. If anything, Students for a Democratic Society sees Eric Kaler’s letter as a firm stance we do not see as often as we’d like from his office regarding issues affecting students. Kaler is able to bring the football team to task and confirm that sexual assault allegations and investigations will not become secondary to the threat of 120 players backing out of a bowl game.

With respect to Tracy Claeys’ decidedly pro-rape stance, we demand that he be fired immediately for supporting students who were attempting to defy the investigation of a sexual assault case. Tracy Claeys has the responsibility to respect the same values of this University that President Kaler discusses in the aforementioned article. Instead, he provided no respect to the investigative process and publicly allowed the football team and its leadership act like a bunch of “good old boys”.

Frankly, we also find it embarrassing that this team, throughout their “boycott”, appeared to not even completely understand the legal proceedings or how the case has gotten to this point. They requested a press conference to promote their boycott and solidarity with their accused teammates without actually reading the chilling EOAA report beforehand. The team’s statements also demonstrate an egregious misunderstanding of the workings of Title IX, a federal act that requires Universities to investigate any alleged sexual misconduct and take actions to correct it. Furthermore, the team’s grievance regarding the 10 players being named with “reckless disregard” is the fault of their own lawyer, who named them publically the evening of Wednesday, December 14th. The initial statement put out by the men’s football team is full of factual inaccuracies. Weirdest of all, however, is Drew Wolitarsky’s bizarre nod to President-Elect Donald Trump that appears to have nothing to do with anything related to the boycott, but instead a paltry cry to “make the program great again”.

In an effort to make the program great again, Students for a Democratic Society demand that all departments of the University respect and abide by the Affirmative Consent Policy that was achieved just recently. We see through the behavior, language and disgusting rhetoric that has come out in support of the Gopher’s football team the absolute need for this policy to not only exist, but to be enforced. Rodrick Williams, a U of M football player, has been quoted on facebook saying that his “team members did not get due process because one female cried wolf because she couldn’t keep her legs closed”. Especially concerning is the attitude espoused by many on the football team, directly blaming the victim in crude, disgusting ways(screenshots are below at the end of this release). Prior to 12/17/16 The men’s football team requested a private meeting with two Regents known to be against the affirmative consent campaign and/or extremely right wing, a move that SDS sees as an attempt to gain biased validation for their “boycott”. This case and it’s subsequent investigation may have seen different results if the Affirmative Consent policy had not passed. We condemn all previous efforts to thwart its passage into U of MN policy and all further efforts to remove it.

As of 12/17/16 the U of M football team has decided to end their “boycott” of all football-related activities and participate in the Holiday Bowl. We think that the football team should be removed from the invitation to play at the game as a consequence of petulantly defending and supporting 10 students accused of sexual assault and publicly shaming the University of Minnesota.

Finally, SDS advises that all those with a conscience who were also previously considering attending or watching the Holiday Bowl do not. It is obvious, given the aforementioned reasons, that the U of M football team fosters a culture of rape apologia and does not understand the possible consequences of their split-second actions regarding this case of sexual assault. The head coach of the U of M men’s football team should be immediately fired, the ten suspected students should be expelled, and the football team should have required sexual assault and harassment rectification classes and re-education. It is clear in the EOAA report that the team used gang rape as a recruiting tool for a high-schooler that was a potential incoming football player.

SDS stands in solidarity with all victims and survivors of sexual assault, and we urge President Kaler and the Regents to take a hard look at the investments being made into the football program and move forward with the expulsion of the perpetrators. We will continue to stand up against these violations until it is clear to everyone that rape culture will not be tolerated on campus.

We would also like to let all students know about the resources available on campus and the Minneapolis area if you are feeling especially vulnerable after the events of the last few weeks regarding the treatment and publication of this case.

The Aurora Center : aurora.umn.edu

RAINN: https://www.rainn.org/index.php

Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault: http://www.mncasa.org

RapeHelpMN: http://rapehelpmn.org/find-help/

Walk-In Counseling Center Minneapolis: http://walkin.org

 

Screenshots below:

A cached list of deleted tweets: http://www.forums.gopherhole.com/boards/showthread.php?72488-Rashad-Still-going-off-on-Twitter-quot-justice-will-be-served-when-she-is-in-handcuffs-quot

 

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We, the students, are putting forward a resolution to be voted on immediately…Whereas, Eric Kaler is incapable of continuing to lead this university.

Whereas… Eric Kaler’s incoming base salary per year was $610,000 — which is $155,000 MORE than previous U President Robert Bruininks.

Whereas….tuition costs have been doubling each decade with President Kaler approving tuition hikes and doing very little to make our land-grant institution more affordable and eventually free. The University of MN’s charter lays out the clear stipulation in Section 12:  

“The admission fee to the University and the charges for

tuition in the several Departments thereof, shall be regulated and

prescribed by the Board of Regents; and as soon as in their opinion,

the income of the University fund will permit, tuition in all of the

Departments shall be without charge to all students in the same, who

are residents of the Territory.”

Whereas… President Kaler has not considered or spoken upon declaring free tuition for Indigenous students, given that the U of M is built on stolen Dakota land, and has not planned to grow on the free tuition plan for Indigenous students at the Morris

Whereas… President Kaler participated in a cover-up of gross ethical misconduct within the medical school and went as far as to sue the families of the victims, who have died as a direct result of this medical misconduct, in an effort to prevent serious investigations.

Whereas… President Kaler has hired known sexual predators to positions of authority. For example, when Norwood Teague was hired as the athletic director, Kaler explained away Teague’s harassment of his subordinates by saying, “perhaps he was over-served,” and paid out Teague’s contract.

Whereas…. President Kaler approved and protected racist actions on campus by responding to the “Build the Wall” policy by deeming it protected free speech.

Whereas… President Kaler fails to see that hate speech turns into hate action. Such is the case in the vandalism of the Muslim Student Association’s bridge panel with the words “ISIS” scrawled across it, which slanders, not only the student organization, but all Muslim identified persons on this campus as “terrorists.”

Whereas… President Kaler continues his policy of not going the distance to combat the racism on campus as evidenced by his lack of resolve to declare our campus a sanctuary. Instead, impressing that he is only willing to do things deemed “legal” in the face of a U.S. president-elect who ambitions to illegalize half of the population.

Whereas… President Kaler has not declared unconditional support for undocumented and Deferred Action students saying he would only protect them if legally allowed to.

Whereas… President Kaler, as president of the entire University system, has failed to adequately represent the students of the U of M system and has not given adequate time for students from the other campuses.

Whereas… President Kaler has pursued anti-worker policies and refused to bargain in good faith with university workers and their unions for living wages and better workplace conditions.

Whereas… President Kaler approved the use of $550,000, drawn from tuition and state money, in an attempt to sabotage the faculty unionization organizing on the Twin Cities campus.

Whereas…. President Kaler has in effect criminalized dissent at the university by charging some of the most committed and celebrated students at the U with “student code of conduct” charges and criminal charges for their actions on campus. A University administration committed to critical thinking and community engagement would immediately drop the charges against the six students arrested at the June 2016 Board of Regents meeting and instead listen to their demands and voices.

Therefore be it resolved… Eric Kaler should be removed from office immediately. A new leader should be put in place through a process involving genuine input from the campus community and the new president must be accountable to the University community, not just symbolically in verbiage, but in actuality – responsive to student, faculty, and worker power.

This accountability must be to the larger university community, instead of, as we’ve witnessed under President Kaler, accountability only to wealthy financial donors and the swollen bureaucracy of “yes men” administrators who do nothing to question misguided policies or represent the needs of students, staff, and faculty on campus.

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