MSA still debating resolution about portrait

by Chris Vetter

Members of the Minnesota Student Association wanted more information before passing a resolution to request the removal of a controversial portrait from Wilson Library — a wish that will be granted at their next forum.
MSA’s Academic Affairs Committee voted Monday to add an information sheet on Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger to the resolution. They also added a clause to the resolution that would allow the University to still allow teaching and discussion of the views on birth control that Sanger fought for throughout her life.
The proposal now goes back before the entire body at its next meeting on Nov. 5. MSA members voted to table the resolution at their forum last week after debate about Sanger’s history, as well as about the wording of portions of the resolution.
For example, one section stated that the group “opposes this blatant insensitivity and disrespect for the University’s minority community.” Some members feared that if they voted the resolution down for other reasons, the group could be criticized for rejecting this statement.
The resolution requests the University to remove Sanger’s portrait from a display in Wilson Library that also includes photos of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas Ghandi. It also calls on Boynton Health Service and University President Nils Hasselmo to publicly apologize for using Sanger in Boynton’s ads promoting a contraceptive program.
The information sheet includes five facts on Sanger’s life, including that she gave a keynote speech at a Ku Klux Klan meeting as well as her efforts in starting the “Negro Project,” which was allegedly meant to control the African-American population.
The resolution was authored by four members of the College Republicans, including Tom Gromacki, who is running for the 59B House seat in the state Legislature. Gromacki said Sanger was a racist who practiced eugenics to reduce the African-American population in the United States.
“There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that shows she was a racist,” Gromacki said. “The more you look, you will see she pushed for birth control to control the population among blacks.”
But College of Liberal Arts sophomore Robert Baker said he feared the consequences of taking down the picture. He said the University should not censor pictures in the library.
“No one has the right to tell us what we can look at and what we should look at,” Baker said. “What is the next step? Do we cut her out of the history books?”