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LETTER: Fates of UND buildings ‘subject to whims of administrators’

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GRAND FORKS — Early last year, UND announced as part of an agreement made with the North Dakota Legislature that in order to get the funding for the new medical school facility, eight buildings would be demolished.

This decision was factored into the university’s budget when the funding for the new medical school was approved.

On Feb. 21 of this year, UND announced its plans to take these building offline, citing their current state of disrepair. The announcement emphasized that no decisions had been made about the building’s futures, and that two committees were exploring options.

On that day, I emailed UND officials and asked for the names of the committees in order to get the committees’ minutes. It is now late March, and I still have not received those names.

Meanwhile, on Feb. 28 -- only a week after the initial announcement -- UND said that two of these buildings are slated for demolition. It appears these decisions were made in 2013 — and if not, then the university is wasting no time in making them now.

I have yet to find anyone who knows which committees are in charge of these decisions.

The lack of transparency in this process is disheartening and alarming. UND has an ethical obligation to students, alumni and the community to preserve our history.

These buildings belong to the people of North Dakota, and their future should not be subject to the whims of administrators.

Several of these buildings are listed on the national register of historic places and are intrinsic pieces of the community and the university’s history. Babcock Hall was the home of the nationally known Cable pottery and designed by North Dakota’s most renowned architect, Joseph Bell DeRemer. DeRemer also designed several of Grand Forks’ most impressive buildings, as well as the North Dakota Capitol.

The preservationists would like to open a dialogue, but UND needs to come to the table first.

Zack Petrick

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