Fargo Forum: Critics Of NDSU Don’t Know How To Think
It just last week that the Fargo Forum ran an article hand-wringing about how uncivil anonymous commenters and bloggers are.
Today, though, the Forum runs an editorial in which it claims that critics (and by critics they pretty much mean me) of North Dakota State University don’t know how to think.
Which means the paper has to have about the least self-aware editorial board in the world. I mean, talk about hypocrisy.
It never fails. Whenever the critics of North Dakota higher education have a chance to take a shot – legitimate or not – they fire away. So it was last week when The Forum reported on the cost and value of North Dakota State University’s airplane, a Beechcraft King Air B-200. To hear some of them tell it, university personnel are jetting around the nation on the taxpayers’ dime. Not hardly.
The university uses the plane almost exclusively for in-state trips when several people have to be at a destination, such as testifying at the Legislature. The aircraft’s cabin is configured to seat eight. It’s not used for personal trips by NDSU’s president and staff. When Dean Bresciani has to travel out of state, he flies commercial.
The yearly cost of operating the airplane is about $550,000 during a legislative year when university officials testify and lobby frequently at the Bismarck session. Using the plane instead of driving is smart use of resources. When balanced against the costs of ground travel and overnight stays and meals, the airplane’s efficiencies measure up well. The valuable time of the president and his staff must be factored into the travel equation.
Furthermore, critics who apparently believe (we say “believe” because “think” would be inaccurate) the plane is an extravagance are of the same crowd who say universities should be run like businesses. Ironically, they are right about business.
Major companies in Fargo and elsewhere operate airplanes. They don’t do so because they like to waste money. The planes are tools of business. Flying is efficient – a cost-saver in the long run.
If you’re expecting the folks at the forum to actually do that factoring you can forget it. We’re simply to take it on faith alone that $550,000/year in expenses is a “smart use of resources.”
Keep in mind that during the legislative session the NDSU plane was flying back and forth to Bismarck multiple times per week, at an expense of thousands of dollars per flight. Even calculating in the time of the staff traveling (and remember, we do live in a digital age where work can be done on the move), driving from Fargo to Bismarck would have been a fraction of the cost.
Are we to believe that an hour or two of President Bresciani’s time is worth thousands of dollars? C’mon. He’s a university president, not a prince.
Let’s not forget the context this lavish spending on in-state air travel is taking place in. President Bresciani spent the entire legislative session earlier this year griping to legislators about “eviscerating cuts” at his school (forget that NDSU’s budget has been growing by leaps and bounds). He’s talked about his university being on the “edge of a cliff.” He shut down, albeit temporarily, the university’s Center for Childhood Development. NDSU students got nailed with a massive 8.8% tuition increase.
But meanwhile, the university’s elite are jetting around the state on the taxpayer’s dime. You can’t have it both ways. Unless you’re so foolish as to think that it’s more efficient to fly from Fargo to Bismarck on a regular basis rather than drive (and nobody who can do math should believe that for a moment) it’s hypocrisy.
And do you think the Forum might have mentioned, at some point, that NDSU lied to the legislature when asked for information about use of the plane? Of course not.The university claimed that the plane was actually funded by a foundation and not the university itself. But that’s now been exposed. The university has been paying the costs all along.
But hey, it’s not like it’s the state’s largest newspaper’s job to report about malfeasance at the state’s largest university which exists right in their back yard. Their job, apparently, is to be NDSU’s PR department.
By the way, isn’t it funny how the folks at the Forum never mention who these critics of NDSU are? The editorial doesn’t mention them. The original story the Forum ran about NDSU’s airplanes last week was headlined, “NDSU president defends school’s use of private plane” but doesn’t say who Bresciani is defending against.
That’s because it’s the criticism of this blog and its readers that has them on the defensive (nobody else has been talking about this story). But the folks at the Forum, I think, have a rule against mentioning SAB even when we uncover stories that they can’t help but ignore.Tags: dean bresciani, fargo forum, higher education, North Dakota News, north dakota state university