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Student government vows to increase purchases from LGBTQ, racial minority-owned businesses

Takes aim at Amazon, too

The student government at the University of Minnesota recently passed legislation that would require that it spends half of its discretionary funds at LGBTQ or racial minority-owned businesses.

The Minnesota Student Association “will be required to purchase no less than 50% of items considered food or supplies at a local women-owned, BIPOC-owned, LGBTQIA+ owned, or a disabled-owned small business, or website,” according to the resolution from the public university’s student government.

It cites a CNBC article that covered research originally published by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research that found minority-owned businesses were hit hard by COVID lockdowns.

It’s part of an “ethical mandate purchasing” resolution passed by the student government on February 23 that also criticized Amazon and promised to try to avoid spending money at the company.

“The final results were 43 in favor, 12 against, and 3 abstentions,” Jack Flom, the legislation’s sponsor, told The College Fix via email. He said the purchasing bylaws “are in effect immediately.”

The student representative said “realistically the effects will be seen next year and years following when normality picks back up again.”

MORE: University of Minnesota librarians create anti-racism research guide

“Our total food and ‘other’ section of the budget is just over $21,000,” Flom said, and estimated the amount spent on gift cards and giveaways “would be from $3,000 to $5,000.”

This means about $13,000 at minimum would be directed specifically toward underrepresented businesses.

The student paper The Minnesota Daily reported that an earlier version would have asked the university to email students “encouraging them to purchase more from Black, Indigenous, people of color and LGBTQ businesses.”

“[T]he initial version of the bill did ask the University to send those emails but that was taken out,” Flom told The Fix. “Ideally they would do such a thing but I was convinced by someone that it’s not really our place to ask students to do that.”

The Fix reached out to one business that might benefit from the new spending rules, but did not receive a response to an emailed request for comment. The Fix asked Breaking Bread, a black owned restaurant near the university, for its thoughts on the resolution.

No Amazon Prime account

The student government also wants to cut ties with corporate giant Amazon over its “enormous” effect on the climate. The resolution forbids the Minnesota Student Association from “possess[ing] an ‘Amazon Prime’ membership in any form following the passage of this bill.”

The company is responsible for “releasing more than 51 million metric tons of CO2 in 2019 alone,” the resolution said.

“Amazon ended hazard pay for their workers in June 2020 prior to the breakout of a second wave of COVID-19 in the U.S., and have not seen any bonuses or extra pay since then,” the resolution said, in explaining a problem with the company’s labor policies.

The university promised to pay $500 million in bonuses to its frontline workers, according to CNET.

MORE: Student government senator impeached for defending Thin Blue Line masks

IMAGE: Chris Henry/Unsplash

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About the Author
Asher Notheis -- Liberty University