NDSU Faculty Proves Why North Dakota’s Universities Should Be Privatized


Recently North Dakota State University raised the ire of legislators when they accepted Obamacare funding to partner with Planned Parenthood for sex education. The legislature had already specifically turned down those funds, and state law prohibits anything but abstinence-based sex education.

NDSU President Dean Bresciani was forced to admit that the acceptance of the funds violated the intent of the legislature. If you think that’s odd given how our university system normally refuses to be governed by the legislature, consider that the legislature is currently in session and that the higher education budget has not yet been finalized. Also consider that Bresciani has not returned the federal money but only frozen its use, no doubt planning on un-freezing it the moment the legislative session is over.

Because exactly the sort of bad-faith, double-dealing we’ve come to expect from the university system.

In the mean time, the faculty at NDSU has decided to throw a collective hissy fit claiming their “rights” have been violated because they’re guaranteed freedom for research. You can read the long, pedantic diatribe here (written by Thomas Stone Carlson, President of the Faculty Senate).

First, it’s worth remembering that the Planned Parenthood partnership wasn’t about research. It was about sex education. I don’t think the NDSU faculty would be making any startling new revelations about how babies are made while guiding high schoolers through the motions of putting condoms on bananas.

Second, whether the faculty or administration at NDSU wants to believe it or not, they are a public institution funded with both state and federal tax dollars and the taxpayers, by and through their legislators, get a say in how those dollars are spent.

Which is why, if the faculty and administration want to truly be free, they should call for their institutions to be privatized. They should run them as businesses, providing education and research services to willing customers, and then set whatever priorities in research they want. I, for one, would be happy to see the burdens these institutions represent to taxpayers expunged from the budget, and the faculty would no doubt enjoy their new freedom for research without being burdened by the foibles of democracy.

Of course, if institutions like NDSU had to operate off the revenues they received from the value of the education and research they provide, the campus would be nearly so opulent. The payroll would be smaller, and salaries/perks would be less lavish. But I’m sure the faculty at NDSU values their academic freedom far more than material things.

But there is a bill, HCR3008, before the legislature to remove the state’s universities from the state constitution. Ending the constitutional mandate for these institutions would be a good first step toward giving these faculty members the freedom and “rights” they want.

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.

Related posts

  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    Good grief!
    “Tom Stone Carlson (Ph.D., Iowa State University)

    Associate Professor, CFT Program Coordinator
    Office Phone: 701-231-8279
    Email: [email protected]

    Core Area: Couple and Family Therapy and Family Science

    Research Interests Include: influence of homophobia and heterosexism on clinical practice and training, evaluation of LGBT affirmative therapy competence among therapists, evaluation of feminist and social justice training practices and influence of spirituality of clinical practice and training.”

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      What’s wrong, Kevin? You’re not seeing the commercial value in that sort of research?

      • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

        How can I get on that gravy train?

        • DelawareBeachHouse

          That’s a heteronormative comment!

          • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

            I’m sorry; how insensitive of me.

    • splined

      And these faculty members expect us to believe that they are not engaged in political activity. They who think they are among the brightest are worthy of engaging in political activity, but they won’t allow the taxpayers to be involved in political activity without squealing to high heaven..

      • Doc Realistic

        They aren’t. They conduct research, teach classes, and give therapy. The world is bigger than you imagine. You can’t legislate against reality, folks. Reality wins.

        • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

          They twist perception on a daily basis.

        • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

          A) This isn’t research. This is propaganda for Planned Parenthood

          B) It’s a public university, and we can certainly legislate what happens at that university.

          • Matthew Hawkins

            The legislature shouldn’t control research. If they do than all results are suspect.

          • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

            So you want the taxpayers to find research, but not exercise any control?

            No thanks.

          • Matthew Hawkins

            I want other scientists and experts in a field to choose what projects to fund on a competitive basis without the legislature or taxpayers having much say.

          • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

            If you don’t want the taxpayers to.have a say, don’t ask the taxpayers for funding.

  • zipity

    How dare you attempt to despoil their ivory tower? Don’t you know they are our moral and cultural superiors? Bow before them peons….and hand over your wallet.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      I don’t begrudge them their ivory tower.

      I just don’t want to subsidize it any more.

      • Doc Realistic

        Generates more money for the state than it costs.

        • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

          That’s not even remotely true, unless you buy into the “economic impact” studies the university puts out as self-serving propaganda.

          Studies that, of course, ignore the economic activity that would have taken place had the dollars diverted to the universities been used in other ways.

          The university system is a drain on the state, not a boon to it.

          • Matthew Hawkins

            Universities do not make money.

            But that does not mean they are a drain on the state. They are a legitimate function of state government.

            You can’t privatize state universities. Universities are not designed to make money. The english department doesn’t make money, the physics department does not make money, the chemistry department does not make money. And the truth is you don’t want them making money because than they wouldn’t be doing there mission of educating.

            When you say you want to privatize the public universities what you are essentially saying is you want them shut down. They don’t have an endowment that will allow them to continue.

            And if you think that shutting down universities in ND is good,than you are a fool. The best and the brightest of ND highschoolers will want to go to universities. Once they leave, most won’t come back.

          • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

            That they don’t make money doesn’t mean they couldn’t make money.

            We’re told endlessly of the value of a college degree? Are you note arguing that it doesn’t have that much value?

            You can’t have it both ways.

  • RandyBoBandy

    So Bresciani freezes the money just to be sure NDSU is not violating state law and you are still criticizing him? He has done the right thing thus far, so cut him some slack before you start up the bash higher-ed bandwagon.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      I’d be more willing to give Bresciani some credit if I didn’t believe he’ll be unfreezing these dollars as soon as the legislature is over.

      • Doc Realistic

        Probably will unfreeze it once the lawyers re-confirm that it is not against the law–which it isn’t. Dog and pony show will be over, and NDSU will be back in business as an economic engine and research powerhouse.

        • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

          I don’t doubt that NDSU’s lawyers will “re-confirm” it as soon as the legislative session is over.

          Because that’s how NDSU’s dishonest administration operates.

  • WOOF

    The faculty knows better , the students know better.
    A Trojan Horse to burn troglodyte ND legislators.
    This is how communities get organized.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      I think they should get organized and fight to liberate their institution from the oversight of busybody politicians.

      Free NDSU! Privatize it!

  • WOOF

    Garfunkel and Oates abstinence educating,
    Not Necessarily Safe For Work


  • Greg

    “NDSU President Dean Bresciani was forced to admit that the acceptance of the funds violated the intent of the legislature” I think you made this up. When and where did he admit that?

  • HideFromObama

    Ending the consitutional university requirement would allow us to close schools like Mayville, VCSU, Devils Lake, etc. and move their non-duplicated programs to other colleges. That to me is the biggest advantage of the constitutional removal of required universities.

    • Drain52

      Or it would allow market forces to dictate what the schools taught. Instead of all these 4-yr institutions, how about some trade schools, tech schools, etc?

  • Waski_the_Squirrel

    I attended one of the few truly private colleges in the USA (Grove City College in Pennsylvania). The other one I know of is Hillsdale in Michigan. Both institutions went all the way to the Supreme Court to assert their independence and cut all ties to the federal government. While I was a student, Grove City cut further ties to the Pennsylvania state government.

    My point is that the idea of a private college is good. Both of these are considered high quality institutions. However, it comes at a cost. One is the lack of any federal money or state money, even from scholarships or student loans. Another is that the institution may have to limit its scope. Note the word “college” in the name of both institutions. Such institutions have to be able to make money from degrees offered. Many grad programs would not make money, and a lot of research would make money only if it could pay for itself or if funded by business.

    I’m actually in favor of privatizing the state schools. The idea behind a state funded school is to keep tuition low. This is getting to be less and less the case. As an entirely private institution, Grove City College kept costs down as part of its Christian mission.

    One final note: at one point during college I was working 3 jobs. I have no party stories from college. I never had time. On the plus side, I graduated debt free which gave me the freedom to follow my dream job rather than one that would pay off my student loan debt. I think we’re skewing college so it is less about learning and mind expanding and more about the fun to be had.

    • Matthew Hawkins

      That might work for a certain type of curriculum, but it would be extremely hard to run a decent science program.

      The state should fund basic research. Industry won’t fund basic research because you can’t commercialize it. But it is the only thing that leads to applied research.

  • Wayne

    “First, it’s worth remembering that the Planned Parenthood partnership wasn’t about research. It was about sex education. I don’t think the NDSU faculty would be making any startling new revelations about how babies are made while guiding high schoolers through the motions of putting condoms on bananas.”

    I’m quite sure that the people you are looking to incite will eat this up. But this is an obvious lie. The research is on the effectiveness of comprehensive sexual education, as opposed to the well-documented ineffectiveness of abstinence-only education. That is, does this level of education make a significant impact in a reduction of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. If you care so much about abortion, stand up and fight for research that can contribute to a decrease in the need for it.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      “The research is on the effectiveness of comprehensive sexual education, as opposed to the well-documented ineffectiveness of abstinence-only education.”

      Gosh, it almost sounds like the outcome of this ” research” has already been decided.

      • Matthew Hawkins

        Why don';t you do an open records request and ask for the research proposal and see the methodology.
        However, there have been other studies which have shown that abistence only programs do not have a significant effect on teens having sex. They have an effect on teens having safe sex.

  • WOOF

    NDSU President Dean Bresciani forced by Cardinals of the Legislature
    to recant like a troublesome priest.
    If the University becomes a tool of politicians
    it puts its accreditation in jeopardy.
    You know that fascism thing.
    Will they come for the books with unacceptable

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      If the University becomes a tool of politicians it puts its accreditation in jeopardy.

      All the more reason to privatize education, poodle.

      Welcome to the school choice movement. We conservatives are waiting with open arms.

  • Matthew Hawkins

    BTW, how do you privatize a state university? Also, do you really mean privatize, or do you mean make it for profit?

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Willing sellers to willing buyers.

      The need, if there ever was one, for public higher education is gone.