You’ve got to hand it to Tanner Franklin and the student government at the University of North Dakota. Their resolution calling for the resignation of UND President Robert Kelley and other administrators achieved its goals.
Instead of Kelley and his administration steamrolling students, giving them only perfunctory involvement in processes surrounding issues like setting tuition, they’ve now signed an agreement guaranteeing student participation. You can read about it in the email below sent out to the campus and forwarded to me by a student.
That’s a remarkable turnabout from last week when Kelley’s initial response to the resolution was to show up at a student government meeting with his cronies and attack the students. I guess Kelley figured out that a group of arrogant, entitled higher education bureaucrats ripping into volunteer student government leaders wasn’t the sort of optics that’s going to create sympathy for his cause with the public. Especially given higher education’s already tarnished reputation in the state.
Kudos to Franklin and his fellow student leaders. They called out Kelley. They didn’t back down when the initial response from Kelley and his allies was intimidation and insults. And now they’ve gotten Kelley to not only apologize for his behavior towards them, but to putin writing a new commitment to student engagement.
This should serve as an example for students around the state. For far too long the universities have been allowed to prioritize administrative bloat, big-business athletics, and endless campus expansion over students. And, for the most part, student leaders have served as rubber stamps for whatever the administrators want because, as we saw with Kelley’s initial reaction in this instance, students who aren’t willing to be a rubber stamp are targeted for ridicule.
But Franklin and the UND student government stuck to their guns, held Kelley accountable, and they won. That’s remarkable. Well done.
The question now is, does Kelley really mean this? Or is this just an effort to get the “no confidence” resolution off the table, as I assume it now is? The student government takes up that issue tonight.