On Television: At A North Dakota Research University The Researchers Don't Have Running Water


I was on Chris Berg’s 6:30 Point of View program last night on Valley News Live for my usual Monday segment, albeit one shortened by weather coverage this time around.

We discussed the deferred maintenance report the NDUS got last week, which detailed over $808 million worth of problems, including the fact that some researchers at North Dakota State don’t have reliable electricity or working plumbing.

This as the president of that university lives in what has been described as the most expensive home in the Fargo/Moorhead area (university-provided, naturally) and insisted that he needed a private airplane mostly to shuttle him back and forth to Bismarck during the three-month legislative session.

We also discussed the North Dakota State College of Science plan to build a 210,000 foot campus in Fargo that we’re not supposed to call a campus because, uh, reasons? Which isn’t to say that I’m against the expansion – I think NDSCS is one of the most pragmatic and important education institutions in the state – but it does illustrate how absurd it is that our universities are tied to communities in the state constitution.

Per the constitution – Article VIII, Section 6 – there must be a state college of science in Wahpeton as well as seven other institutions in cities across the state. They cannot be closed. They cannot be moved. Not unless the constitution is amended, which is an arduous process requiring a statewide vote of the people.

I have little doubt that Fargo might be a better fit for NDSCS than Wahpeton, but that can’t happen except in the sort of maneuver the NDSCS is attempting now, where they build a campus in Fargo but refrain from calling it a campus.

We also can’t shut down schools that aren’t performing well, or that aren’t attracting students, and focus those resources on the universities that are performing well. Because of, again, the state constitution.

That should change.

By the way, after my segment Berg has a great interview with Rep. Corey Mock – Democrat from Grand Forks – about the fiasco at the Game & Fish Department. Worth your time to watch.