September 27, 2011
Susan Banovetz | UMD Director of External Affairs | 218-726-6141 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana Harvey | Chief Communications Officer/Deputy Chief of Staff | Office of the President | University of Minnesota | 612-625-7134 | email@example.com
Statement Regarding Recent Incident on University of Minnesota Duluth Campus
Freedom of expression, fostering diverse views and opinions, and promoting civil debate are core to our democracy, and are an important part of the tradition of this country's public universities and of the University of Minnesota. Freedom of speech on campus is a fundamental tenet of the University of Minnesota, as is a strong commitment to equity and diversity, and to ensuring a safe and civil campus community.
The organization Youth for Western Civilization (YWC) has produced a video that provides edited excerpts of a conversation that took place on Sept. 16, 2011. The exchanges are between a representative from YWC (who is not affiliated with the University of Minnesota), a student from the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), and a UMD staff member. The conversation took place amid the annual "Taste of Kirby" event in recognition of Constitution Day during which numerous student organizations and outside groups distribute literature. The exchange took place outside UMD's Kirby Student Center. Because the entirety of the video recorded that day has not been shared with us, it would be imprudent to jump to conclusions about the full exchange between the parties portrayed in the edited video that has been made public.
We have discussed the matter with the UMD staff person in the video and it is our understanding that her comment was based on materials being displayed by YWC which weren't made available to her or to the University. Conversations are continuing with involved parties and we are confident that all are committed to the University of Minnesota's values of civility, free speech, and diversity.
No complaints about threats or violence were made to the UMD Police at the time of the incident. One complaint was made on Sept. 27, 2011, after the videotape was made public. Upon review of the video, St. Louis County Attorney representatives determined there is no basis for charges or additional investigation.
The University of Minnesota will continue to foster a culture of open, engaged, and respectful discourse.