Message to the community

Message to the community

May 2, 2024

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

Earlier this week, the University of Minnesota Administration invited student organizations, including the UMN Divest Coalition, representing multiple views regarding the conflict in Palestine, to meet with me and other members of my senior leadership team, particularly in response to the student-led demonstrations that have taken place on the Twin Cities campus. Following a constructive dialogue with multiple representatives of those protesting, I am pleased to share that we have reached an initial agreement that will end the encampment. View the full agreement.

As a result, we will reopen closed buildings on the Northrop Mall at noon today (Thursday, May 2). In addition, the student coalition has agreed they will not organize disruptions at upcoming final exams and commencements, allowing those activities to continue as planned. Representatives of the coalition will also be provided an opportunity to address the Board of Regents at its May 10 meeting.

Our meetings have been grounded in listening, learning, and respect, and I believe they were a very positive first step in reaching mutual understanding. Though the original meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes yesterday, we engaged in constructive conversation for more than 90 minutes. We then met two more times to discuss the proposed agreements. We regret that these meetings did not happen sooner, and have committed to regular meetings moving forward to continue to discuss this coalition’s concerns.

While there is more work to do, and conversations are still planned with other student groups affected by the painful situation in Palestine, I am heartened by today’s progress. It grew out of a desire among those involved to reach shared understanding. While we do not condone tactics that are outside of our policies, we appreciate student leaders’ willingness to engage in dialogue. I value the challenging and healthy conversations we’ve had.

The University supports freedom of expression as a fundamental part of our mission, and the events of the past week have tested our processes and policies. They have also highlighted the enduring strength of our mission, to prepare students to meet the most complex issues facing society today and to work across differences. I am grateful for everyone in our community who has had to make quick changes in the moment to navigate this time.


Jeff Ettinger
Interim President