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Campus Confidential

U alumni association tries to calm outrage after student group's 9/11 vote

The University of Minnesota Alumni Association is doing damage control after a week of bad publicity about a student group voting against a 9/11 moment of silence.

On Thursday, the association sent an e-mail to U grads to try to calm some of the outrage that followed news reports about the vote.

"This topic has received a great deal of media attention, and we want to provide a current, complete picture, particularly about the University's decision to move forward with a commemoration," said the e-mail from Alison Page, the board chair, and Lisa Lewis, the association president and CEO.

They noted that the Minnesota Student Association, which voted against a 9/11 "moment of recognition" on Nov. 10, is an "independent undergraduate student governing organization." The students rejected the resolution, 36-23, after some members raised concerns that it might inflame anti-Muslim sentiment and cause logistical problems.

The vote prompted a major backlash, particularly on social media, and resulted in a flood of complaints, apparently from many U alums.

On Wednesday, U officials announced that they will move ahead with plans for a 9/11 commemoration to honor the victims. The alumni association said it endorsed the U's decision. It also noted that a U alum, Tom Burnett, was among the victims of the Septemer 11, 2001 attacks.

The association leaders called the incident "a moment of education and debate," and an opportunity "to help current and future students recognize the tragedy of 9/11" and its lasting impact. 

University of Minnesota named a top bicycle-friendly campus

The University of Minnesota is now, officially, one of the most bicycle-friendly campuses in the nation.

This week, the League of American Bicyclists awarded the Twin Cities campus its “platinum” or highest designation for 2015. It joins four other top-rated campuses: Stanford University, the University of California, Davis, Colorado State University and Portland State University.

A platinum rating means it’s an “exemplary campus for bicyclists,” according to the league.

What made the U stand out this year? Among other things:

• Its Bike Center, a full-service bike shop complete with showers, parking and classes on winter cycling.

• A commuter rewards program, which allows students to earn gift cards and allows staff to earn health insurance discounts for bicycling to work or class.

• Discounts for the Nice Ride bike-share program.

The U has been on the league's list of friendly universities since it started in 2011, but this is its first year in the top tier.

Steve Sanders, the U’s alternative transportation manager (who has biked to work for 20 years), says the school has continued to improve and expand programs for bikers. About 7,000 people ride their bikes to the U every day, he said.

“Of course, it fluctuates with the weather,” he added. But “you’d be surprised how many people bike during the winter.”

In addition, Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter rated a bronze award (“a strong commitment to cycling”) from the league. It is the only other Minnesota school on the 2015 list.


Maura Lerner • 612-673-7384