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Student leaders debate 9/11 commemoration on U of M campus

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Student leaders have sought to clear the air after a proposal to hold yearly commemorations for September 11th on the University of Minnesota campus was turned down.

Members of the Minnesota Student Association (MSA) Forum recently decided by a vote of 36-23 with 3 abstentions not to approve – for now – a call put forward by the College Republicans group for an annual "moment of recognition" for the 9/11 attacks.

Following the decision, articles such as this one in Campus Reform appeared saying the proposal was rejected on the grounds it would create an "unsafe space" for some students and could increase Islamaphobic attitudes on campus.

The MSA issued a statement on Friday to clear up "the misconceptions" for why it was rejected, saying that while the potential for Islamaphobia was one of the things discussed during the forum, more of the discussion was centered on what form the commemoration would take and how it could be implemented.

The unsuccessful vote doesn't mean the commemoration won't happen.

Instead, the MSA resolved to do more research into ways that a commemoration could be successful on campus, and said it is willing to work with the College Republicans to re-submit their proposal for another vote at its next meeting.

"There were many Forum members that voiced support for holding a moment of recognition for the victims of 9/11," the statement said, "but given the brevity of the resolution and lack of action steps, they didn't know how this could be done."

"The author did not have answers for these questions," it added, "and given that a resolution in this body is inherently a call for action, many members were dissatisfied by the lack of action attached to such an important topic."

'Not about political correctness'

MSA president Joelle Stangler told WCCO that one aspect of the research into a possible commemoration would be to coordinate with Muslim student representatives.

"If there are concerns from the Muslims about their safety, they need to be reached out to," she said, but was adamant the vote against the proposal was not because of political correctness.

"Just because it was not passed doesn’t mean that it was necessarily rejected," she added. "It wasn’t a consensus of the full body that this was going to be so damaging, and that we need to be concerned about how offended people might be. This isn’t really an issue of political correctness.”

The resolution was proposed by Theo Menon, the student group representative to MSA for the College Republicans (CRs), who told campus reform: "I wrote this resolution because I think we need to recognize the victims of this world-changing event. The innocent men, women, and servicemen who died on that day deserve to be honored."

Nathan Amundson, President of the U of M's Young Americans for Liberty chapter, claimed that several members of the MSA "were militant in their opposition" to the resolution "due to a perceived bias toward Muslims," according to the Minnesota Republic.

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