‘Whose University?’ Campaign at University of Minnesota

19 Apr


The Whose University? Campaign organizes across UMTC campus and in local communities with a call for “equal access and resources for underrepresented groups.”  The group uses social media, film, and parody of University advertising as strategic tools.  They are currently targeting several recent policy decisions at UMTC to generate larger discussions around the direction of public education within the state. http://www.youtube.com/user/WhoseUniversity#p/a/u/0/DeBr1iLwX2M 

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn: As the new Kaler administration prepares to take office at the University of Minnesota, hundreds of students and educators from institutions across the state will be attending a “Day of Education” on April 20, 2011, at Coffman Memorial Union on the East Bank.  This event is organized by the Whose University? Campaign — a student-led coalition that has grown dramatically in recent months.  The group has a series of poignant questions about who public education actually serves and who is excluded.

The ‘Day of Education’ event will explore the experiences of students, educators, workers, and community members connected to the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Specifically, the event highlights the ways that UMTC remains embedded in larger communities and social disparities within Minnesota.  The group hopes to encourage the incoming Kaler administration to take stock of whose voices are being heard and silenced as the U of M reassesses its ten year plan.  This also includes examining the impacts of the well-publicized goal to become a top research university in the country.

The Whose University? Campaign has identified three strategic sites at UMTC to begin a state-wide dialogue about the priorities and funding of public education.
1. Admissions: Who has access?
2. Student Cultural Centers: Who’s Supported?
3. Ethnic Studies Departments and Programs: Whose Knowledge is Valued?


Sam Ndely, a student of journalism offers, “I would describe Whose University? as a group of dedicated students, faculty and community members who are invested in the University of Minnesota, and who want to see it live up to its original promise; to serve the people of Minnesota, to serve the citizens of Minnesota, and continue to serve our communities as a state institution.”

“… And this is the critical question of our entire campaign: Who determines the future vision and priorities of the University of Minnesota? And where exactly is our space–as students, educators, workers and communities members from across the state–in shaping those priorities?” says Sofi Shank, a senior in Gender, Women, Sexuality Studies.

“The University of Minnesota is located within a community, and that community contains historical disparities along lines of  race/class. These inequalities are exacerbated in times of economic ‘crisis’ and we see that tensions at UMTC are emblematic of broader state priorities and trends,” explains Illenin Kondo, a graduate student in Economics.

Hana Worku, a graduating senior, states- “What is most exciting is the way this work places individual voices and experiences in dialogue with broader policy ideals.  We start to see how the stories the University of Minnesota tells to the general public- through advertising campaigns and rhetorical promises- are not always representative of lived reality for people here.”

Selected Events from the  Day of Education- April 20, 2011 – Coffman Memorial Union
10:30am PRESS CONFERENCE- Press statement and opportunity for Q&A.  (President’s Room)
12:30pm TEACH-IN – Public introduction to Whose University? Day of Education. Framing of key questions regarding the direction and priorities of UMTC.  (Great Hall)
2:00pm PANEL DISCUSSION – Conversations about the future of Ethnic Studies. U of M  undergraduates, grad students, faculty and staff.  (Coffman Theater)

About Whose University?
The Whose University? Campaign organizes students, educators, workers, and community members around a call for equal access and resources for underrepresented groups.  This semester we began production of a documentary-style film that  explores several related questions: Whose university is this?, Who is admitted?, Who is supported?, Whose knowledge is valued? Whose voices are heard? This film project has expanded into a larger campaign, and the April 20 event is the public kick-off for the film production.


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