News and Perspectives
The following message was sent to Twin Cities faculty and staff on April 11:
Dear Twin Cities Campus Faculty and Staff,
As you know, the additional pressure of pending exams and final projects can lead to increased mental health problems, diminished academic or job performance, and/or reduced participation in classroom or other activities. If you encounter students whose behavior raises concerns, there are several things you can do:
"So, with a system that encourages students to report incidents of protected speech, how does the university proceed?
The university’s Bias Response and Referral Network website indicates that the team, to its credit, considers “whether the [reported] incident has potential free speech or academic freedom implications” — a question explicitly included in the protocol for evaluating reported incidents. And, in responding, the team may “provide educational information to parties involved in the bias incident report about the University’s commitment to equity, inclusion, academic freedom, and freedom of expression.”
These are welcome acknowledgements by the university that it is cognizant of the possibility that a reporting system can have a chilling effect on free speech. Indeed, in at least some instances, like when a student reported political bumper stickers, the records indicate that the team responded by discussing the importance of freedom of speech and the ability to espouse differing views, including those that offend. The University of Minnesota’s team deserves credit for encouraging offended listeners to respond with more speech."
Students and faculty say the University of Minnesota’s new Immigration Response Team is a good first step to addressing concerns on campus surrounding President Trump’s immigration policies.
The school announced the group after student governments pushed for President Kaler to declare the school a “sanctuary campus,” which would symbolically support immigrants on campus. Regardless of whether the school declares itself a sanctuary campus — which administrators have made no indication of doing — student-leaders and faculty say the team is an appropriate response.