Two NDSU students submitted two-page essays on an unlikely topic last month: “Why UND is a good school.”

The essay assignment was not the idea of a professor, but of a visiting judge, who sentenced the students to the essay assignment for pulling a prank at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center last month.

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The prank was foiled when police showed up, disbursing the group of students scaling the Betty and trying to hang an NDSU banner. 

Kyle Adam Mason, 21, and William Paul Ogdahl, 22, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of refusing to halt in state district court in Grand Forks last month.

“And don’t paste off some Wikipedia page,” warned Judge Lee Christofferson, a visiting judge from Devils Lake and a UND alumnus, when sentencing the students.

Mason opened his essay with a quote from a lesser known actor.

“Sam Huntington once said, ‘I would be hard-pressed to look back at anything that I have done in my career and not say, “I would have done that a little different” because hindsight is 20/20. I have been tasked with writing a paper on ways the University of North Dakota is a good school,” he wrote.

Mason’s essay reads more or less like a Wikipedia article, listing off mundane facts about UND, though he stops short of copying and pasting as Christofferson had warned against.

Hockey gets hardly a mention, with Mason writing, “The University of North Dakota has a good hockey team and should be proud of that fact.”

Mason also notes the university’s post-graduation employment rate, but adds an addendum.

“Post-graduation 98% of the graduates are employed or continuing education, though the UND website does not list a timeframe or if the graduates got jobs pertaining to their major, we are left to assume that they were employed because of their degree at the university,” he wrote.

Though no sources are cited, Ogdahl’s essay appears to draw heavily from Wikipedia, with some sentences only slightly rearranged or reworded.

In his essay, Ogdahl lists UND’s School of Medicine Health Sciences, School of Aerospace Studies and School of Law among the university’s merits.

“The UND medical school has produced half of the total number of practicing physicians in the state, and 20 percent of American Indian Doctors in the United States were trained at the school,” he wrote.

Ogdahl also acknowledged the seven national championships won by the UND men’s hockey team.

In his conclusion, Ogdahl takes a more conciliatory approach than Mason, writing, “The University of North Dakota is a great place to receive a life long education and fulfilling experience.”

More on the Web: To read the students' essays click here