Keep student government free from state politics

Dear Minnesota Student Association members: 
 
 
MSA recently reconsidered the divestment resolution brought forward by Students for Justice in Palestine.
 
 
At the very end of the forum’s March 8 debate on a motion not to take a position either on this resolution or on a resolution having to do with anti-Semitism, one speaker quoted from a statement made earlier that day by University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler. 
 
 
At that time, it appears many people were not aware that some Minnesota legislators had written to Kaler, urging him “to publicly and resolutely oppose … [the divestment] resolution before this perilous vote is taken.”
 
 
The action the forum took to effectively table both of these resolutions on March 8 may have been a wise decision and good outcome in some people’s minds. But for me, the letter from the legislators changes everything. 
 
 
Of course, Kaler can deny the letter was what caused him to issue his statement in opposition to both resolutions. But he seems oblivious to appearances. The University was created with its own semi-sovereign structure for a reason.
 
 
Because the president’s action has called into question the absolutely vital independence of the University, it puts MSA in an unfortunate position of having to reclaim its independence, even if the group didn’t initially want to take a position on either of the two resolutions. To have it appear that the Legislature was controlling the free expression of ideas on this campus cannot be tolerated.
 
 
Because of this ill-advised letter from the legislators, and because Kaler did not respond as he should have and publicly denounced such legislative interference, more than 80 legislators and Kaler himself have imperiled the University far more than MSA’s “perilous vote” would have done. 
 
 
Your reconsideration of the divestment resolution makes it clear that you appreciate this peril.
 
 
Chuck Turchick