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E-mail to President Kupchella

May 14, 2008

As quoted in the Herald and copied on their website, I sent an e-mail tonight to University of North Dakota President Charles Kupchella expressing my sincere disappointment with the way the administration and he in particular have handled the hate crimes on campus. I wanted to reproduce the letter here in its entirety. My commentary thus far can be found in prior posts on the blog and in this e-mail. I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but frankly, I need to make sure that my feelings are being heard.

Dear President Kupchella,

My name is Martin Rottler and I was one of the students that you met with a few weeks ago regarding the hate crimes that have occurred at UND. I wanted to take a moment to share with you my feelings with regard to how you as an administrator and as President of the University have handled this situation.

No matter what or where your “strategic priorities” lie, the number one stakeholders in a university are the students, all of whom make a significant investment and commitment during their tenure in studies. It is the responsibility of the administration of a university to ensure that the needs of its stakeholders are met in an effective and proactive manner.

Over the past month, the administration of the University of North Dakota, particularly yourself, have failed me as a student and have failed in your primary responsibility of protecting and serving the best interests of the students and faculty of UND. As an administrator, I trust in you to ensure that this protection and action is in my best interest as a student. You have violated that trust.

I went into the meeting in your office hoping that you would be a proactive leader in righting the wrongs that have occurred up to that point in dealing with Mr. Lebovitz’s situation and the general intolerance present on our campus. I was aghast and disgusted in the meeting when you a) denied that what was clearly a swastika was not and b) denied the fact that these acts toward Scott and other Jewish students on campus were, in fact hate crimes. As someone who should take primary interest in these concerns, it was clear that we were not being listened to.

What was worse, even more disgusting, and a further failure on your part were your actions after the meeting. I was disgusted to find outright lies in your statements to Joe Marks in the Herald. Our meeting lasted 45 minutes, not an hour and a half as you said. I clearly showed you photos of a swastika and the words “SCOTT IS A JEW” using my laptop computer. When asked to clarify, you refused to answer. In the paper, you lied and said that you were never showed photos of these occurrences. While I understand that sometimes things get misconstrued in the press, Joe Marks hasn’t misquoted anything I have said in the approximately six articles I have been interviewed for, thereby leading me to believe that it was you that had, in fact, lied to him as well. These lies and blaming of the victim have continued in your correspondence with the Anti-Defamation League. The meeting itself was not, as you said in your letter, “a monologue by Professor Weinstein.” Even more egregious is the completely false accusation that we would “bring the wrath of national organizations” down on the university. This never happened, and would definitely have not been the way in which it was stated. At this point, frankly, I expected nothing less from you.

Never would I have imagined that I would end up having to defend my image, my credibility and my sense of safety on-campus from anyone in a leadership role at this university, let alone the President himself. As I sat at graduation this past Saturday with seven family members and countless friends looking on, the thought of having to shake your hand made me feel like, as you so eloquently closed out graduation with, I had woken up after having taken a laxative and a sleeping pill. My trust in the administration of this university to handle this problem effectively has never been lower.

At this point in time, I’m not even sure that a personal apology would even begin to make up for the amount of undue pain, stress, and work I have had to endure in working towards a positive solution to this issue. I have sacrificed a lot to work towards this solution, and your actions to this point have attempted to marginalize these sacrifices. As I leave Grand Forks on Friday, I look forward to returning to graduate school here in the fall with a new President at the reigns of the university; one who will likely be much more open, easy to work with, and one that takes a primary interest in the university’s primary stakeholders: students and faculty.

I write this letter to you so that I leave no doubts with anyone as to my true feelings in this matter. I hope that you will take something from this letter and use the last month and a half of your time here to make a 180 degree turn from the path you have been on toward working on a positive solution with everyone, but I know that an apology and action on your part is highly unlikely given your stance and actions up to this point.


Martin Rottler ’08

One Comment leave one →
  1. Annette permalink
    May 17, 2008 9:48 pm

    Good for you; Congratulations on Graduating, and good luck in Grad school.

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