MSA to vote on Sanger portrait removal

by Tracy Ellingson

Minnesota Student Association members will vote on a resolution today requesting the removal of a portrait of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger from Wilson Library.
The authors of the resolution, which states that the library has violated the University’s climate of tolerance by displaying the portrait, will present the proposal this afternoon at an MSA forum in St. Paul.
College of Liberal Arts junior and resolution co-author Tom Gromacki first raised his complaint against the Sanger portrait in an Oct. 15 letter to the Daily. He said the birth control pioneer was a white supremacist who was associated with Nazi racial programs.
Resolution co-author Ben Powers, a senior in the College of Biological Sciences, said he predicted that the resolution will create a charged debate and will most likely draw strong opposition from both sides.
“I think (the debate) will be something along the lines of ‘You’re mean-spirited, Margaret Sanger was a wonderful woman,'” said Powers. “And we’ll be, ‘Margaret Sanger was in charge of the eugenics program in this country.'”
The resolution also condemns Boynton Health Service for using Sanger in advertisements promoting early contraceptive education.
David Golden, the director of Health Education at Boynton Health Services, said Gromacki’s letter has prompted Boynton staff to research Sanger’s background.
Boynton’s administration director, Dr. Edward Ehlinger, said the health service does not honor Sanger’s allegedly racist views as stated in the MSA resolution but instead honors her contribution to family planning.
“The people who put together the Bill of Rights owned slaves,” Ehlinger said. “Does that mean if we support the Bill of Rights now, should we not do that because the people had some other views that were linked with other causes that nowadays we don’t like?”
He said if he uncovers evidence that Sanger carried her racist views into her family planning programs, Boynton staff will make changes in its advertisements.
MSA members at today’s forum will also present a resolution to fund a student bus trip to the Minnesota versus Wisconsin football game this November in Madison, Wis. Another resolution will involve requesting funding for voting packets for November’s election.