Once again, the University of Minnesota has decided money trumps values. An outside rich donor decides to bring an event to campus, serious questions are raised about whether it is appropriate to host such an event, and the University sells out.
Last spring, it was former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaking at Northrop Auditorium, with University President Kaler conspicuously appearing by her side while her arguably criminal past conduct was ignored. A major donor to the University paid $150,000 to bring her here, and the University clearly did not want to displease that rich donor.
Now it’s the use of University facilities to host a football team with a racist name and mascot.
To rationalize the use of TCF Bank Stadium for the Minnesota-Washington football game, Kaler explains: “We are leasing the stadium to the Vikings, but our contract does not allow us to dictate their schedule and who they play,” the Minnesota Daily reported yesterday.
Kaler, of course, fails to mention that the University was not forced to lease the stadium.
It made a choice to do so, just as it made a choice to enhance the credibility of Rice by providing the Northrop Auditorium setting — with the visible presence of Kaler and Board of Regents Chair Richard Beeson — and the distribution of advertisements that lauded Rice’s accomplishments.
In the current situation, when the University decided to lease its facility for $250,000 per game, surely it knew that there was a possibility Washington would be on the schedule.
This time, the University is at least providing official University programming that recognizes the offensiveness of the event to some people. With Rice, the University administration made no such equivalent statement.
In both cases, however, the University’s rich donors’ future contributions or present expenditures are the bottom line, so to speak.