The Sviggum drama continues

The university board of regents member, Steve Sviggum (for some reason, I always think of him as a Ralph Sviggum), who suggest that maybe the University of Minnesota Morris is too diverse, is still squatting on the board, despite calls to resign. The latest comes from student leaders at all the branch campuses.

Dear Regent Sviggum:

We write to you today asking for your immediate resignation from the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

Your question at the October 13th Mission Fulfillment committee meeting, in which you asked whether or not the Morris campus had become ‘too diverse’, demonstrated your inability to fulfill the University’s institutional commitment to equity and diversity as written in Board of Regents policy.

While we acknowledge your public apology, what students have shared about your visit to the Morris campus last month make it clear that your apology was meaningless. We do not believe that your reported behavior when interacting with Morris students from marginalized communities is consistent with someone who truly believes that diversity is a strength.

Finally, we acknowledge that many of our campuses are currently facing enrollment struggles. We firmly believe that encouraging students from diverse backgrounds to attend our colleges will be a part of the solution to those struggles. A recent study conducted by Niche found that diversity was one of the top aspects high school seniors want out of their college experience. With that in mind, we are concerned that your continued presence on the Board of Regents will signal a hostile attitude toward diversity and deter prospective students from choosing one of the five University of Minnesota campuses.

He’s lingering on like a foul odor, and it’s quite clear that he has no intention of leaving until he is forced out. The latest bit of petty bullying from him occurred at a board of regents meeting to which student leaders were invited.

Yeah, he’s not leaving. Right now he’s clinging to his position out of spite.

By the way, here are the stats on Morris enrollment.

The University of Minnesota’s strategic plan calls for the Morris campus to have 1,700 students by 2025, but it had just 1,068 at one recent count. About 41% of students describe themselves as a person of color, up from 21% a decade ago.

I was here a decade ago (two decades ago even), and I’m here now. We’ve had no decline in the ability, the enthusiasm, or the brilliance of our students over that time. So much for “too much diversity”!


  1. says

    Another possible explanation for his behavior: Dylan Young is Native American, and our delegation has other POCs. Maybe Sviggum just doesn’t want to touch non-whites.

  2. says

    I get the feeling this guy’s not going after skin color. PZ would know better than me, so this is pure speculation, but the thing that has most conservative’s panties in a wad is queer and trans rights these days. I could be wrong, he could be a full on white supremacist, but those don’t last very long in academia these days. My money’s on homophobe.

  3. raven says

    The diversity at Morris is about the same as most of the Universities in the UMN system.

    .1. The main campus in Minneapolis-St. Paul is 40% nonwhite compared to Morris at 41% nonwhite for undergraduates, graduate students are similar. Not a significant difference.

    Sviggum should know this being on the Board of Regents.
    I just looked it up in 2 seconds using Google.

    .2. The racial diversity of UMN Morris and UMN Twin Cities reflects the composition of the target demographic, young people entering college.
    34% of Minnesota school children are nonwhite.
    “Meanwhile, the percent of students who aren’t white has increased from 24% to 34% and will continue to grow.Jun 29, 2022
    Minnesota teachers still overwhelmingly white as student …”

    If Sviggum wants to live in an all white state, that ship has already sailed.
    He should be ecstatic that the UMN system is doing its job and educating another generation to keep our society going.

    We can’t run a Hi Tech society without an educated population.

  4. raven says

    I get the feeling this guy’s not going after skin color.

    They hate everyone who isn’t a cis het white male fundie xian.
    It is way too much trouble for them to pick and choose.

    A partial list would be uppity women, nonxians, atheists, LGBTQI+, nonwhites, Democrats, progressives, and I know I’m leaving some out.

    They are always adding to their lists as well.
    Lately it is journalists, the vaccinated against Covid-19 virus, and…Ukrainians.

    Some of the right wingnuts, probably not all of them though, are favoring the Russian invaders right now because haters recognize their own I guess.

    The Ukrainians are on their To Hate list for not quietly going along with the Russian plans to genocide them and steal all their land and stuff.

  5. robro says

    I don’t know if this particular politician hates anybody or not. I don’t particular care except he’s in a position to get attention for his spew. I suspect he’s just trolling that segment of the US population that is in an uproar because “kids are different today”…and after 56 or more years of changes lots of these mothers still need a little helper. Angst and anger play well together. Their disquiet can be about race and them foreigners taking over, but changes in the way boys and girls play together probably make the poor dears antsy too. Hell, by “too much diversity” this nut may mean there are just too many women in college instead of being at home with their babies and biscuits. Chump went pretty far with this tactic, as have many other politicians both big time and small fries. No wonder this little man is barking at the diversity tree.

  6. snarkrates says

    Ray Ceeya: “I get the feeling this guy’s not going after skin color. PZ would know better than me, so this is pure speculation, but the thing that has most conservative’s panties in a wad is queer and trans rights these days.”

    And yet, the thing that made the conservatives entirely lose their shit was having a black President. They have plenty of hate to go around for anyone who differs from them in the slightest detail. If they met a fellow Lutheran, they’d ask which schism they date back to and cast the heretics into hell.

  7. R. L. Foster says

    When someone makes a statement like that my first impulse is to fire back : Specifics, please. Which ones in particular are you thinking about?

    This reminds me of my MAGA sister-in-law who took a DNA test and found out she’s got about 2% sub-Saharan DNA. She has no clue how it entered her family tree. If it was me I’d be filled with burning curiosity. Who? How? When? Where? There’s got to be a good story here. But, her response was a plaintive, I wish I’d never taken that damned test. I was tempted to ask, Why not? But I demurred. There’s only one possible answer.

  8. whheydt says

    Re: R. L. Foster @ #10…
    I do not know of any recent (that is, within the last 400 years or so…go back 100K years and it’s all of it) African ancestry. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if there is some. Some of my ancestors have been born in what is now the US in the first half of the 18th century.
    What would totally shock me would be if I don’t have some relatives with recent African ancestry.