Here’s an exchange between me and Mr. Thomas Hoch, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hennepin Theatre Trust:
On June 22nd, the Pantages Theatre, a venue under your direction, will present Dan Savage. I respectfully ask you to reconsider.
Mr. Savage has a public record of hyperbolic, obscene, and violent bigotry. Appearing on Real Time, an HBO show hosted by Bill Maher, he stated that he would want to [forcibly] sodomize Senator Rick Santorum, following the lead of another guest, Marc Maron, who stated he wanted to see Representative Michelle Bachmann raped; and more recently, Mr. Savage engaged in a profane anti-Semitic and anti-Christian diatribe in front of high school students at a student journalism conference. These are two examples.
I ask you, Sir, is this the type of person you want to appear at the Pantages? Do you want the Hennepin Theatre Trust to be on record allowing an anti-Semite and a violently anti-Christian bigot access to one of your venues?
It is you and the Board of Directors that will have to answer that question for yourselves.
Thank you for your consideration. I am looking forward to your reply.
I cc’d Councilwoman Goodman and Sarah Johnson, the Public Relations Manager for the Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Councilwoman Goodman wrote and advised me of information I didn’t know:
Thanks for your feedback to the Hennepin Theatre Trust. We as the City
gave them complete control over content so that the City would not be
making first amendment free speech decisions about each and every
Dan Savage just might offend my and many others sensibilities but the
HTT gets to decide to present him at the Pantages or not.
Is the Theatre still City property? Applicable law, ordinances and policies apply.
Mr. Hoch’s reply on May 3rd:
Thank you for taking the time to let me know your thoughts regarding our upcoming presentation of journalist and commentator Dan Savage. Mr. Savage’s work and expression of ideas often provoke a wide range of opinions and responses. I understand and appreciate that his performance may be offensive to some, perhaps many. By presenting him, we are not asking everyone to agree with his opinions, messages, methods or styles of delivery.
Hennepin Theatre Trust does, however, believe in offering audiences many choices in programming, reflecting the diversity of interests and opinions in this community. In the case of Dan Savage and other Hennepin Theatre Trust presented programs, which range from Mamma Mia to BB King, I respect our public’s right to choose to attend these presentations…or not.
Dan Savage and his work have been positively recognized nationally and internationally for supporting teenagers who may be bullied for their beliefs or sexual orientation, including “It Gets Better,” which asks people to make and upload short videos about their positive experiences. His newest work, “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living,” became a New York Times Bestseller, addressing an issue currently affecting many young people. While I do not personally agree with every position Mr. Savage has assumed, I believe it not a disservice to our community to present him.
I really do appreciate your contacting me and appreciate your patience in awaiting my response. -Tom
Is Mr. Hoch going to book the Westboro Baptist Church? After all, it would be the public’s decision to attend or not.
I sincerely doubt it. May 24th:
Thank you for replying to my email of May 1st.
If you were an independent theater company or owner, I could only offer my opinion of your entity’s choice of artists or performers to appear at the Pantages or any of the Trust’s venues. That, however, is not the case. A very important point that has been overlooked: Legacy Amendment funds – part of my paycheck – is being diverted for use to the Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Directly to the point: I am being forcibly compelled to fund your organization which has chosen to present a violently obscene anti-Semite at the Pantages. This is unacceptable.
I await your suggestion to resolve this matter.
cc: Honorable Lisa Goodman; Sarah Johnson, Public Relations Manager, Hennepin Theatre Trust
He has not answered as of today.
The Trust – a 501c3 non-profit, is involved in political activities by publicly opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. The IRS and Minnesota Revenue review their in-kind and direct cash payments to opponents of the Marriage Amendment, or any grants from Legacy Amendment tax funds, used to promote the condemnation of normative Jewish family tradition.
And you know who you are.
First, Ladies and Gentlemen, the preliminaries. Let us read, all together now, the Equal Opportunity Statement for the University of Minnesota, a public, tax funded institution of the State of Minnesota. Now, just follow the bouncing ball:
Equal Opportunity Statement
The University of Minnesota shall provide equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Each department that admits students has the specific responsibility of ensuring that equal educational opportunity is provided to everyone. All offices which provide financial aid, placement, tutoring, counseling, and other student services are required to adhere to the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action, and specifically abide by Title VI, Title IX and the 504 Regulations.
From “Affirmative Action Plan for the University of Minnesota“, pages 5 and 12, respectively, written by the Office Of Equal Opportunity And Affirmative Action, Kimberly Hewitt Boyd, Director, and Michael O’Day, Assistant Director.
There I was, minding my own business, researching whether I should sell my Specialized Expedition Elite to the Hub Bike Coop (do they support or are they against the Marriage Amendment) and I found this interesting search result at the University of Minnesota’s Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (were you even aware that it existed?) advertising this:
HECUA’s new Scholarship for Racial Justice
A central component of HECUA’s mission is to equip students with skills and knowledge for building just communities and democratic societies. In the context of U.S. society, building just communities requires recognition of historic racial discrimination and the ways in which concepts of race continue to shape power and privilege. It also requires a concrete commitment to undoing institutionalized racism. The Scholarship for Racial Justice is one of our concrete commitments to undoing institutionalized racism in higher education.
* Applicants must be students of color.
A state university website advertising a racially-exclusive scholarship? I called the MCAE office in Minneapolis and a nice woman took my message. I advised her of the problem. The office manager called me back. I very cordially advised her (paraphrasing) the racially exclusive scholarship is against the University of Minnesota’s anti-discrimination policy (btw, posting the advertisement also violates the policy):
The University of Minnesota shall provide equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color … national origin …
She explained the Center is for minority students (ed. note: irrelevant) and something about the HECUA being a “partner”. She advised me that she would pass my compalint on to Kim Hewitt, the EOAA Director, to determine if the Center is in compliance (ed. note: based upon objective fact, it is not). I asked the office manager to have Kim Hewitt call me. I hope she does: my first call included a promise to call my State Representative if this was not addressed.
And what, you will ask, is HECUA - the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs?
HECUA is an independent, non-profit organization founded and governed by member institutions of higher education.
And who, you will ask, are their member institutions?
“Consortium Members”: Augsburg College, Augustana College, Carleton College, College of St. Scholastica, Colorado College, Denison University, Gustavus Adophus College, Hamline University, Macalester College, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, St. Catherine University, St. Olaf College, Swarthmore College, University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas, Viterbo University.
“Affiliate Members”: Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Peace and Justice Studies Association.
In other words, major public and private colleges are party to a violation of state law.
Let’s muckrake, shall we?
To: Kimberly Hewitt Boyd,
Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office,
University of Minnesota
On or about May 20th, I came across an advertisement for a scholarship on the website of the University’s Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence. The Scholarship for Racial Justice lists, as one of its criteria for eligibility, that applicants “must be students of color” . This is a racially exclusive scholarship, one that I would have thought would be prohibited by policy and by law, especially at a public university.
I called the MCAE office in Minneapolis and a receptionist took my message. Crystal, the office manager, called me back. I very cordially advised her (paraphrasing) the racially exclusive scholarship is against the University of Minnesota’s anti-discrimination policy.
Crystal explained the Center is for minority students, also something about the HECUA (the sponsor of the scholarship) being a “partner”. She advised me that she would pass my complaint on to you, the EOAA Director, to determine if the Center is in compliance. I had given the MCAE office my name and telephone number. I asked the office manager to have you call me.
As of today, I have not received a reply.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I am looking forward to your reply.
I have not had a chance to review the scholarship advertisement to which you refer. As part of our work in the EOAA Office consistent with the educational mission of the University, we advise departments about ways in which they can advertise positions and ask questions in the interview process that will encourage candidates from diverse backgrounds and those with experience working across various cultures and communities to apply. It is not typically our role to advise on the legality of a particular advertisement, so upon my review of the ad I may recommend to MCAE that they confer with the Office for the General Counsel about the legal parameters of their advertisement.
Madam Director asserts the EOAA office does not typically offer legal advice on a particular advertisement, and that she may, upon review, recommend to the MCAE to confer with the Office for the General Counsel.
Thank you for replying to my email of May 20th.
It is clear from the website of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action that your office has the responsibility to “ensure that all University community members uphold federal and state civil rights laws and regulations, as well as University equal opportunity policies” . Obviously, it is proper for your office to investigate and resolve violations of the Minnesota Human Rights Act  and policies of the Regents of the University of Minnesota . The University of Minnesota is a publicly funded university, paid for with taxpayer funds, including part of my paycheck, diverted to the University. I expect that such funds would be used at the University in compliance with Minnesota law.
To reiterate, the Scholarship for Racial Justice lists, as one of its criteria for eligibility, that applicants “must be students of color”. This is a racially exclusive scholarship, one that is prohibited by University policy  and by the Minnesota Human Rights Act  and posted on a University website. 
Please advise me what action you take to investigate and subsequently resolve the posting of the Scholarship in question, as well as any other scholarship  that would also violate University policy and state law, which your office is directed to uphold.
I am looking forward to your reply.
 Minnesota Statutes (2011), Chapter 363A.
 University of Minnesota Board of Regents Policy: Equity, Diversity, Equal Opportunity, and Affirmative Action (1995, as amended).
 Board of Regents Policy, supra, Section II(a).
 “”It is an unfair discriminatory practice for any person…intentionally to aid, abet…a person to engage in any of the practices forbidden by this chapter…”; Minnesota Statutes (2011) 363A.14, Aiding and Abetting and Obstruction. The practice forbidden is enumerated in 363A.13 subdivision 2: “It is an unfair discriminatory practice to exclude…or otherwise discriminate against…a person enrolled as a student because of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex…”.
 There are other scholarships at the University that are examples of a forbidden practice as defined in the Minnesota Human Rights Act. See, generally, Office for Equity and Diversity Scholarships. See also: 2012 GLBTA Student Scholarship Form.
As I indicated to you in my earlier email I have referred the question as to whether or not the language in the posting is legal to the Office for the General Counsel (OGC). Our office does not render legal opinions, so you misunderstand our role in this regard.
That’s not correct, Madam Director. Your office has the responsibility to investigate these matters, and I would like to know who is investigating this at the Office for General Counsel.
I am not asking your office for a legal opinion. I am asking that you exercise your responsibility to “ensure that all University community members uphold federal and state civil rights laws and regulations, as well as University equal opportunity policies”. You are apparently unwilling to do so. That being said, please advise me who in the Office for the General Counsel you have contacted concerning this matter, so that I may address this directly with them.
I am not sure if we have to ask MCAE to change the language because the scholarship comes from an outside organization. For this reason I am seeking the legal advice first. You are assuming that your position is correct. We always investigate complaints before taking action. I will respond to you when we have made a determination as is the typical process with all complaints.
The outside organization that is sponsoring the “Scholarship for Racial Justice”, the racially exclusive scholarship, is HECUA, a consortium of universities. One of the universities listed as a member of the consortium is the University of Minnesota . This makes the University of Minnesota, being a member of the HECUA, a party to a violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act and to their own policy on equal opportunity.You previously stated that you had referred the complaint to the Office of General Counsel, however, you have not advised me who I may contact at that office. Please advise me who is the individual at the OGC who is investigating the complaint and a case or tracking number.Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
I will respond to you when I have completed my investigation into your complaint and made a determination. It is not the point of our process to have complainants tracking the investigation. I will not be writing back again until such time as I have completed my investigation and made a determination about your complaint.
Not to annoy her any further…
Thank you for acknowledging that you are investigating this matter. It was not clear if you or the Office of General Counsel was investigating the complaint. Since there is no case number, I will await your response.
On May 29th, she advised me of her decision.
I have reviewed the scholarship language, HECUA website and conferred with the Office of the General Counsel and concluded that the posting of the scholarship on the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (MCAE) website does not violate the University of Minnesota’s policy on Equity, Diversity, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.
The University circulates a variety of scholarship information for students. That information, like the HECUA scholarship, instructs students to contact the organization providing the scholarship information directly. The University does not endorse or sponsor these scholarships, but simply provides information. As such there is no violation of law or policy here and students may choose to avail themselves of the circulated information.
Finally, it is not unusual for organizations, large and small, to seek out students from particular backgrounds.
In response, I advised her and the interested parties of my decision.
To: Kimberly Hewitt Boyd,
Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office,
University of Minnesota
It is an objective fact the University of Minnesota is a member of HECUA, which in turn offers a racially-exclusive scholarship that was, in turn, posted on a University website. It is also an objective fact that your office has a duty to enforce both University policy and state law. It is beyond rational explanation why the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and the Office of General Counsel, responsible for ensuring compliance with University policy and state law, would appear to ignore an obvious, prima facie violation of University policy and Minnesota Human Rights Act. The actions on the part of the University through the HECUA and the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence [are] still illegal under the law and shall continue to be so, despite your refusal to admit the obvious.
The lesson learned is this: if you want to build stadiums or offer privileges based upon a “protected status”, those who are members of, or are associated with, the socio-political class of the state apparatus believe themselves to be immune from the dictates of the law.
That being said, thank you for your time and for responding to my complaint.
cc: Mark B. Rotenberg,
University of Minnesota
cc: Cindy Armijo,
Coordinator of Academic and Scholarship Partnerships,
Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence,
University of Minnesota
cc: Jenny Keyser,
Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs
No response from Hewitt-Boyd, Rotenberg, Armijo, or Keyser. After all, I’m only a member of the working class who pays their salaries and subsidizes their socio-political non-profits.
If racism = prejudice + power, then Kimberly Hewitt Boyd, member of a privileged socio-economic class, an officer of the court, who was hired to lead the University of Minnesota effort to uphold civil rights laws, who has the power of her office and refuses to recognize a condition of racial discrimination or prejudice…
…is a racist.