EXCLUSIVE: UMN French class devolves into liberal GOTV effort
A University of Minnesota French professor allowed a student to use class time to persuade students to vote for candidates from the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, seemingly violating university policy.
Prior to the Nov. 6 election, Professor Chloe Hagen allowed a student to distribute voter information literature on the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s (DFL) stationary and also distributed campaign materials for a candidate running for Hennepin County commissioner and Hennepin County attorney.
“We are gathering information on this matter and will take the appropriate steps in line with University policy.”
The student claimed the literature was "nonpartisan." During her speech to the class, she promoted Angela Conley, who ran successfully for Hennepin County commissioner, and Mark Haase, who ran unsuccessfully for Hennepin County attorney. Haase was endorsed by the Minnesota DFL, the People for Bernie [Sanders], and Democratic DFL state Rep. Ilhan Omar. Conley marketed her campaign partly on banning plastic and supporting a $15 minimum wage.
The literature distributed for the two candidates stated the desire to “tackle racial and economic disparities” and “end Hennepin County cooperation with ICE.” The literature was paid for and prepared by the Minnesota Young DFL.
The student also distributed a DFL voter information card that prompted students to look up the DFL candidates, along with another card that asked students to provide their personal information, to the class.
The University of Minnesota’s publication distribution policy states that “distributing published materials in stairways, classrooms, offices, hallways, doorways, ramps, elevators, or escalators is prohibited.”
“We are gathering information on this matter and will take the appropriate steps in line with University policy,” University spokeswoman Emmalyn Bauer told Campus Reform. Reached for comment by phone, Hagen said she was not aware of partisan literature being distributed in her class and referred Campus Reform to the university's statement.
Campus Reform also spoke with Alex Boutrous, president of the Minnesota Young DFL, who stated she “did not know [the literature] was being used during class time or that that was a policy violation.”
One student in the class, who asked to remain anonymous because of the small class size, told Campus Reform that when this happened, her education was "put on hold to promote the liberal agenda," continuing by saying that “voting is an important civic duty [and] it shouldn’t be used as a time to promote agendas."
The student stated that the incident is part of a campus climate in which “pushing political agendas is more important than providing an education for students.” The student also provided video, which allowed Campus Reform to corroborate these claims, but asked that the footage not be published as the student's location in the small classroom could reveal their identity.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @MegOlsonn