A Vacation from Pragmatism

We used to be the nice Dakota.  We let the bunch in Pierre bungle around with the hot-button issues and waste their tax dollars on useless lawsuits, and give up after fruitless months in courtrooms.  South Dakotans illuminated the path away from pragmatism, the hornet’s nest that is stirred by passing laws designed to sweep away the lonely outposts of Roe v. Wade on the plains.

Instead of learning from its namesake neighbour, North Dakota Legislature and Governor have chosen purity to an ideology, in a race to the bottom with Arkansas, of all places.  It shall surely cost dearly, not simply in tears and treasure, but also in cancelled vacation time for attorneys everywhere, while Bismarck takes its vacation from pragmatism.

Endgame at the SBHE

I must say that the governance of the North Dakota University System has seemed to be permanently bungled throughout my long career at UND.  First Goetz, then Shirvani — it’s one scandal after another.  But the end may be in sight.

Speaker Carlson has succeeded in passing HCR 3047 through the House.  It is good in part but gravely bad in others.

The good part: it removes the State Board of Higher Education. As far as I can tell, it’s a job that one person can do. Each member is redundant with the byzantine bureaucracy located on the 11 campuses of the University System.  Aside from the student member, they seem to contribute little to oversight and accountability.

The bad part: 3047 axes the student SBHE member along with the rest. There is no provision for student representation at the new Department of Higher Education, no special mention of the role of the various Student Senates, or of the North Dakota Student Association. Presently, the Student State Board Member is able to speak and vote at each SBHE meeting on issues that directly affect students. Will the new Director of Higher Education simply impose measures on students without any input? Under 3047, they absolutely can.

The other bad part: It encodes aristocracy into the law.  Only Educational Leadership Ph.Ds riding the campus-governance carousel are allowed to be director.  These bizarre provisions limit opportunities for North Dakotans to rise to the position, and it prevents the governor from appointing managers that have a view from outside the ivory tower.

If 3047 gets a Senate amendment that removes Section 1-3(a) through 1-3(c), and adds some meaningful responsibility to students into the mix, I would wholeheartedly support it.