Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.
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The sanctuary of Freedom Church in downtown Grand Forks was filled with song on a Tuesday night. Though the people gathered in the Christmas-decorated hall sang and prayed as they would on Sunday morning, there was no typical faith leader overlooking the proceedings. Instead, before breaking into small groups for discussion, the group looked to a video screen for a sermon of sorts on the merits of admitting faults, claiming shortcomings and healing through the power of forgiveness. The video-sermon and small groups weren't the only differences from a standard day of worship.
UND will begin a university branding strategy project in the next few weeks in an effort to improve enrollment numbers, according to a university-run blog. The project's launch comes as university leadership develops a strategic plan for the school as a whole and will include stakeholder research to shape the university's future marketing plans in an attempt to strengthen the UND brand among prospective students.
UND senior Matt Sorenson recently sat among the expansive roll-down maps of a classroom in the the university's department of geography and geographic information science. The unfurled maps depicted the usual major landscapes—North Dakota, the U.S., the world at large—but Sorenson, a student of geography and economics, was more focused on the small maps before him which detailed an issue far closer to home.
STANDING ROCK SIOUX RESERVATION—The Prairie Knights Casino and Resort on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is serving as a refuge for a growing number of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters seeking shelter through an ongoing winter storm. Rooms in the casino's hotel filled rapidly. By Monday evening, a front desk attendant said the waiting list for a room had grown too long to justify adding any more names. In many cases, several protesters shared a single room, but those left without made alternative arrangements.
STANDING ROCK SIOUX RESERVATION—As blizzard conditions mounted, a representative of the protest camps just south of the Dakota Access Pipeline construction zone issued a clear message Monday. "As water protectors, we have a responsibility to be stewards of the water," said John Bigelow, head of the camp's media committee and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux. "We declare here today, we are not going anywhere."
The mood in the pipeline resistance encampments just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation was celebratory Sunday night, but protesters expressed no intention of leaving the site. Paula Devlin, a member of the White Bear First Nation from southern Saskatchewan, said she was excited yet "cautiously optimistic" to hear of the denial of the Dakota Access Pipeline easement earlier that day. "This is what we prayed for," Devlin said. "This is a really good step today. It's a really positive thing, and it gives us hope and encouragement, but we've dealt with them before."
UND students, staff and faculty gathered Friday in the university's Memorial Union for a teach-in on the subjects of racism and diversity—both topics recently underlined by racially-charged social media posts created and shared by UND students.
The possibility of continued state budget shortfalls could mean deeper funding reductions for UND in the upcoming biennium, and the university is beginning to prepare for such a scenario. Alice Brekke, UND's vice president for finance and operations, advised the university's divisions via email Thursday to plan ahead for fiscal year 2018 by considering how they could accommodate a 4 percent to 12 percent reduction of their appropriated budget for fiscal year 2017.
A UND policy committee is looking to incorporate a small-scale air traffic control system into a campuswide set of ground rules for piloting unmanned aerial systems. Committee chairman John Bridewell—a UND professor who serves as director of the center for UAS research, education and training in the university's John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences—said the rule-making process has been ongoing since last spring.
UND is hosting a teach-in Friday to focus on the topics of racism and diversity. A mix of faculty, staff and students will facilitate a series of themed discussions throughout the daylong event, which is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on campus in Memorial Union's Loading Dock. A UND press release describes the teach-in as a "grass-roots effort" to build on discussions of race already taking place in campus settings. The day's schedule is as follows: • 9 to 10:30 a.m.: "Lies Are Quick, The Truth Is Slow: Free Speech Just Isn't Enough."