Kaler tells U students to be more accepting of different views

Eric Kaler
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler at a news conference in August.
Jim Mone | AP 2015

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler called on students to be more accepting of different points of view during his State of the University speech Thursday.

"I am opposed to hate speech of any kind. While the university encourages all members of the community to speak with respect and understanding of others, we should not forbid speech that shocks, hurts or angers," he said. "We must not tolerate the shouting down of points of view as we've seen in our community in recent months."

The U president also said the school is working to improve racial diversity of the student body, but acknowledged that growth has been slow among African-American and American Indian students, whose numbers have been relatively flat.

On the Twin Cities U campus, the percentage of undergraduate students of color overall has increased from 18 to 20 percent since 2011.

Joanna Nunez, a feminist studies graduate student, said Kaler hasn't done enough.

"He has in some ways committed to meeting some of the demands and began to work on them," Nunez said. "But they are a very diluted version of what we asked for and what students need on campus and even what faculty and other staff need."

Last year, several students occupied Kaler's office, demanding more efforts toward diversity on campus. Among the demands addressed, campus police stopped describing crime suspects by race.

Kaler also used his speech to outline several areas that he feels the U has improved on during his nearly five-year tenure, including minimal in-state tuition increases, boosts in research funding and record-breaking fundraising for the university.

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.