May the memory of Nils Hasselmo be a blessing (“With a steady hand, he guided the U through some tough times,” obituary, Jan. 24). And may he be remembered as the University of Minnesota president who advanced LGBT rights thoroughly, in every way asked of him, at the institution. As president, Hasselmo commissioned a yearlong study of homophobia and transphobia at the U, and he put LGBT students, staff and faculty in charge of the effort. He supported the creation of domestic partnerships for LGBT students and staff so that same-sex couples had equal benefits. He supported the advancement of LGBT academic studies, the creation of a campus support office for LGBT students, staff and faculty, and he updated all human-resource policies to eliminate institutional homophobia and transphobia. The 1990s were an era of legal setbacks for LGBT rights across the country, but at the University of Minnesota, Nils had our back, and the progress made under his tenure has endured to this day. Rah Rah Rah for Ski-U-Mah, and three cheers for this Minnesota Swede, a champion of equality.

Gary Schiff, Minneapolis

The writer is a former member of the Minneapolis City Council.

• • •

One day in 1996, when I was an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, I brought my 5-year-old twins to the university. As we crossed the Williamson Hall plaza, I caught sight of President Hasselmo, talking with a few colleagues. I knelt down to point him out to my kids, and he saw us looking at him across the way. He left the group and bounded over to meet my little ones.

In reading about his tenure as president, I was reminded of the excellence of his leadership, but it’s his spontaneous kindness that I remember best.

Melissa S. Anderson, Minneapolis


Our process, our problem

Even though the majority of Americans want to end the shutdown, in Thursday’s votes in the U.S. Senate, Republican senators from red states with relatively small populations in which President Donald Trump still polls positively voted against ending the shutdown. This reflects the problem that, given the ratio of senators representing states with small populations relative to the larger U.S. population, on this and other issues, the Senate does not represent the opinions of the American public.

While many Democrats representing states with large populations such as California, New York or Illinois support ending the shutdown, they are outvoted by senators representing states with smaller populations. As noted in a Washington Post column by Philip Bump (, since 1790, “the most-populous states making up half of the country’s population have always been represented by only about a fifth of the available Senate seats.” Bump also notes that the problem will only worsen in the future, citing a report by the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib “that by 2040, about 70% of Americans are expected to live in the 15 largest states. … They will have only 30 senators representing them, while the remaining 30% of Americans will have 70 senators representing them.”

Richard Beach, Minneapolis

• • •

In junior high school, I learned how a bill becomes law. A bill is drafted; introduced; goes through hearings in the House and Senate, where the issue is debated; experts on all sides testify; votes are held; and the president signs or vetoes the bill after a final draft is approved by both houses.

For two years, the current president did not submit a bill; no bills were heard; and no experts testified as to whether the proposal for a “wall” is the best way to deal with immigration issues. Holding the American people hostage to fulfill a campaign promise is disgraceful.

We want our children to deny bullying; we should expect nothing less from our president.

Stephanie Wolkin, White Bear Lake


Our impasse, our problem

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson says “give Trump the wall.” I must say I agree with him. The huge immorality in all this standoff has been the 800,000 government workers who are running out of funds. Neither Trump nor Pelosi evidence much or any concern for holding them hostage. Peterson suggests various restrictions to providing funds for the wall (like no eminent domain), which would hedge the harm the wall may do. Anyway, it’s a long trip from cup to lip as well, as from appropriation to actuality. This impasse has gone on long enough.

Claire Olson, Richfield

• • •

To those of you who think that the Democrats should cave and give President Trump his $5.7 billion for the wall: The wall costs $21 billion. The down payment is $5.7 billion. No wall is worth $21 billion.

Please, give it a rest. There isn’t going to be a wall.

This whole dilemma is because no one has ever said “no” to Trump before. He has no idea what a Plan B looks like.

Darlene Thyen, Paynesville, Minn.


Our president, our problem

There are now two humanitarian crises. The first was/is the separation of thousands of children from their parents and with no idea or organized plan on how or when to reunite them. The second is the result of the government shutdown and the extreme hardships on government workers that in turn can inflict hardship on the general population through travel, food and other security issues. This administration and president seem without compassion or any altruistic thoughts and feelings. The president’s vanity and need to win seem to be the only values at work from this administration.

James Burpee, Plymouth

• • •

Dear World,

Dear, dear World,

I am so sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I apologize to you on behalf of the reasonable Americans.

I am an American. I am the American who welcomes people of different cultures to my world. In my world, we are all equals, and we all deserve the freedoms of our democracy. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Donald Trump is not my president. I denounce him as the idiot he is. He is fond of nicknames, so I give him one. Stupid Donald.

So, dear world, please accept my sincere apologies for the Stupid Donald. I still want to be part of your world.

Susan Dean, Northfield


But, here, something helpful

Excellent journalism to provide “Four views of the federal government shutdown mess” (by members of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, Jan. 22). We depend on this kind of reporting to help us strengthen our democracy.

Another important part of journalism is printing the positive news. For example, recently 135 members of the House from both parties signed and sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting America’s continued support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. With 27 million lives saved since it began in 2002, the Global Fund is a great investment, especially since America’s bold pledge inspires other donors to put in two-thirds of the total. Knowing these three pandemics need to be treated globally to protect us locally, let’s join the members of the House calling for America to continue support. That will be good news, working toward the day these three diseases are finally under control.

Willie Dickerson, Snohomish, Wash.