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Steve Sviggum resigns as U of M regents vice chair after asking if Morris campus is "too diverse"

MINNEAPOLIS — After asking if the University of Minnesota Morris campus was “too diverse” during a Board of Regents meeting earlier this month, Steve Sviggum is stepping down as vice chair.

In a letter to Chair Ken Powell, Sviggum said he will continue to serve on the board until his term is completed, but will no longer serve as vice chair.

“After our meeting on Saturday morning, I have come to the realization that I should resign from the Vice Chairmanship effective immediately,” he wrote. “I owe that position to my colleagues who have shown disapproval in my actions. I do so humbly and thoughtfully, with knowledge that the success of the University of Minnesota is the most important focus and is much more important than any one person or position.”

In a meeting on Oct. 13 about enrollment, Sviggum, a former Republican speaker of the Minnesota House, asked Morris campus Acting Chancellor Janet Schrunk Eriksen this question: “Is it possible that at Morris we’ve become too diverse? Is that possible, all from a marketing standpoint?”

He pointed to declining enrollment and increased diversity.

“I have received a couple letters, two actually, from friends whose children are not going to go to Morris because it is too diverse, let’s say, of a campus. They just didn’t feel comfortable there,” said Sviggum.

Sviggum later apologized for the comments, as did Powell. Morris Campus Student Association President Dylan Young sent a letter to Sviggum opening up about his experience as a BIPOC student on campus. 

“‘Uncomfortable’ is the same word I would use to describe some of my experiences as a Native American college student,” Young said.

The letter was signed by more than 200 students.

Source: CBS Minnesota

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