University of MN faculty rally in solidarity with UMN 13-plus
Minneapolis, MN – On Feb. 16 a follow-up rally was organized by faculty on University of Minnesota's Minneapolis (UMN) campus to demand immediate action from UMN's administration in implementing the eight demands raised by Whose Diversity? during its occupation of Morrill Hall last week. At the rally, faculty expressed support for the 13 members of Whose Diversity? who were arrested in the building occupation and demanded that all charges against them be dropped. There were around 150 people in attendance at the rally, with an even representation of faculty, graduate instructors and undergraduates.
Although a major purpose of the rally was to express solidarity with those arrested, many speakers addressed the need to keep pressure on the administration. David Melendez, one of the 13 arrested, spoke out at the rally to acknowledge the organizers behind-the-scenes, the less glamorous aspects of Whose Diversity?'s organizing which are neglected in the media, and the long term work of building this current campaign, stating, “The idea of the UMN 13 is not true. We are the Whose Diversity? 13 plus. Whose Diversity? has been working on this for a long time.”
Shortly before the rally began, Dean John Coleman of UMN's College of Liberal Arts announced that the university was now working towards meeting at least one of Whose Diversity?'s demands, as the College of Liberal Arts has begun redirecting resources to make a “cluster hire” of four new tenure track faculty within the ‘RIGS’ departments. RIGS represents the ethnic studies departments, as well as the departments of American Studies and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. Coleman has promised that at least one of these four new faculty will be in the Chicano Studies Department, which has been a major focus of student activism on campus in recent months.
While Coleman's announcement indicates progress towards meeting Whose Diversity?'s demands, speakers at the rally asserted that all eight demands needed to be met by the university administration and that the struggle against racist discrimination and inequality at UMN needs to continue.