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Student Government Rejects Resolution to Recognize Americans Killed on 9/11

By Mairead McArdle | November 13, 2015 | 4:12pm EST
Smoke rises from ground zero in New York City more than a week after the World Trade Center towers were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. (AP photo)

The University of Minnesota’s undergraduate student government rejected a proposal on Tuesday that would have allowed a campus-wide “moment of recognition” for the 2,977 Americans killed on Sept. 11, 2001 on future 9/11 anniversaries.

The vote came after the group’s director of diversity claimed the commemoration would create “an unsafe space” for some students on campus.

The Minnesota Student Association (MSA) voted 36-23 with three abstentions against the resolution, which was introduced by Theo Menon, a representative for the College Republicans at UMN.

University President Eric Kaler, MSA President Joelle Stangler, and MSA Vice President Abeer Syedah all supported the proposal for a remembrance of 9/11. The university currently does nothing to commemorate the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center towers in New York

“I wrote this resolution because I think we need to recognize the victims of this world-changing event,” Menon explained. “The innocent men, women, and servicemen who died on that day deserve to be honored.”

But David Algadi, MSA’s director of diversity and inclusion, strongly opposed the resolution even though he acknowledged 9/11 as a national tragedy.

Algadi said he thought the remembrance could create an “unsafe space” for some students as well as aggravate racism on campus.

“The passing of this resolution might make a space that is unsafe for students on campus even more unsafe,” said Algadi.

“Islamophobia and racism fueled through that are alive and well. When will we start having moments of silence for all of the times white folks have done something terrible?” he asked.

Nathan Amundson, president of UMN’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter, told Campus Reform that "this resolution was non-controversial and was supported by the MSA’s president and vice-president. However, several members... were militant in their opposition to it due to a perceived bias toward Muslims."

“There was no reason for any student not to vote on this resolution and much of the dissenting discussion was wildly speculative and unrelated to the resolution itself,” agreed student senator Cameron Holl, who called MSA’s decision “simply un-American.”

“Additionally, the same people who voted to close discussion early didn’t offer any amendments or changes to the resolution to find compromise and do their due part as a member of forum, which I think shows a lack of effort and respect for other’s opinions and beliefs” Holl said.

Holl and Menon say they will propose a revised measure at a future meeting of MSA.

On November 3, about two dozen protesters representing the Anti-War Committee and Students for Justice in Palestine at UMN shouted down Moshe Halbertal, a professor of Jewish philosophy at Hebrew University and a professor at NYU Law School, during a lecture he was invited to give at UMN. Some students attending the lecture said they feared for their physical safety.

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