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Friday, October 7, 2011

Message to UMD Community

Dear Campus Community,

I want to share an upcoming opportunity for you to participate in SPAT OUT!, being held 5 p.m., Tuesday, October 11, in the UMD Kirby Ballroom. This event will feature music, speakers, poetry, and refreshments. Most important, the event is an opportunity for people to express their opinions and ideas.

I commend the student organizations hosting this event for their leadership and commitment to our campus community. Sponsors include SPAT, Access for All, Latino/Chicano Student Organization, Black Student Association, Asian/Pacific American Student Association, MPIRG, WRAC, SERVE, QASU, Office of Cultural Diversity, Diversity Commission, Kirby Program Board, CJMM Board, and Echoes of Peace Choir.

I encourage you to participate in SPAT OUT!, especially given the reaction toward members of our campus community resulting from a video posted recently on the Internet and featuring an encounter between members of our campus and a representative of an outside organization. This organization reportedly advocates for the elimination of multi-cultural organizations and affirmative action. It is not an affiliated UMD student organization nor is the organization's agent involved in the incident a UMD student. The video, edited and produced by the organization, provides excerpts of the encounter.

Much of the response to the video received largely from people outside of Minnesota was ugly, harassing, and cruel, and we took action immediately to guarantee the safety and security of the UMD community, especially those most affected by the video's posting.

I spent time last week with students, faculty, and staff in the Multicultural Center, listening to their concerns. A frustration shared with me is that there have not been opportunities for their voices to be heard or for their experiences to be shared. I encouraged them to put their thoughts and feelings into writing and to send their narratives to me. SPAT OUT! is another meaningful vehicle that can be used. You may also want to check out this week's edition of The Statesman. Writers and staff did a masterful job of presenting information about what occurred on September 16 and about the organization involved.

The September 16 incident speaks to the importance of SPAT OUT! and other individual and collective actions required to advance the tenets of freedom of expression, diversity, and inclusivity. Your engagement and activism are essential.


Chancellor Lendley C. Black