If Only People Cared As Much About Higher Education Policy As They Do About College Football

I’m not much of a football fan, but hats off to the North Dakota State University Bison for their victory today becoming the FCS champions. North Dakotans are, and should be, proud.

Far be it for me to rain on the parade, but I can’t help but wonder why so many citizens seem to care more for NDSU’s football team than they do for the students who are sent to NDSU to be educated.

Over this past year NDSU nailed students with an 8.8% tuition increase, claiming that the legislature has been under funding the school, but since 2003 total state appropriations for NDSU have gone up 98%.

Keep in mind, too, that the NDSU’s president’s mansion is the most lavish home in the city of Fargo, and the university’s administration fly around the region in a private airplane the use of which they tried to hide from legislative oversight.

Also, even as students get hit with this big tuition hike, NDSU gives millions upon millions of dollars in tuition away in “diversity waivers” used to lure out-of-state students to the campuses.

The folks at NDSU like to tout that they’re a “top-tier research institution,” but those rankings are based on one thing: The amount of federal research dollars a university consumes. When the NDSU officials brag about that, essentially what they’re saying is that the university is really, really good at gobbling up federal tax dollars.

According to rankings based on how students are actually treated and perform, NDSU ranks near the bottom nationally.

And coming next week SAB will have a series of post detailing some major abuse of taxpayer funds involving state Senator Tony Grindberg, who just happens to work for NDSU and sit on the legislature’s higher education committee (no conflict of interest there I’m sure), and has been double-dipping on his NDSU and state salaries to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

My point is that things are clearly going right in NDSU’s athletics department. They’ve fielded an elite team of champions. Hats off to them. But there are major problems in NDSU’s administration – indeed throughout North Dakota’s higher education system – and I wish that those problems got as much attention as today’s football game did.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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