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Banners at UND parking ramp demand school cuts admin, not sports

A handful of students had a message for UND's leaders: "Cut admin not sports." Three people wearing hoodies unfurled four banners spelling out that message at 7:15 Friday morning from the top of the UND parking ramp at the busy intersection of Co...

UND students draped banners across the western side of the parking garage reading "Cut Admin Not Sports" early Friday morning. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)
UND students draped banners across the western side of the parking garage reading "Cut Admin Not Sports" early Friday morning. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)
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A handful of students had a message for UND’s leaders: “Cut admin not sports.”

Three people wearing hoodies unfurled four banners spelling out that message at 7:15 Friday morning from the top of the UND parking ramp at the busy intersection of Columbia Road and University Avenue.

The message on the banners was aimed at UND’s decision to cut women’s hockey and the school’s swimming and diving teams. UND President Mark Kennedy said the athletic department needed to cut $1.3 million from its budget, but this week’s announcement to cut women’s hockey caused outrage across the community and beyond.

The three said they were students but declined to identify themselves and left the parking ramp soon after they unfurled the signs. The banners were taken down a short time later.

Last year, UND cut the equivalent of 123.8 full-time positions worth $21.8 million, according to university documents. About nine of those were listed as executive, administrative and managerial, for a decrease of $2.78 million. Executive administrative and managerial staff only made up 7 percent of the schools, but they had some of the lowest percentage reduction rates -- 3 to 4 percent -- while most other categories had percentage losses in the double digits.

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Peter Johnson, interim vice president for university and public affairs, said the school is cutting four executive administrative posts in this round of cuts, or about a fifth of the 20 positions that include the president, six vice presidents and 13 associate and assistant vice presidents.

 Johnson said the school respects freedom of speech but said the students didn't ask for permission to hang the banners.   "Had it been sought, we would not have authorized the hanging of banners in this location because of safety concerns related to the traffic on one of Grand Forks’ busiest sections of road," he said in a statement. "Had one of the banners come loose and floated down into traffic, that could have been dangerous, even fatal.   "Had the banners said 'We Love Chocolate!,' we would have done the same thing."  

Asked if the school’s administration would face more cuts, Johnson said the school needs leadership positions to operate.

In another reaction to the athletics cuts, a change.org petition to save the women’s hockey team has attracted more than 2,300 supporters by Friday afternoon.

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UND students draped banners across the western side of the parking garage reading "Cut Admin Not Sports" early Friday morning. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)
UND students draped banners across the western side of the parking garage reading "Cut Admin Not Sports" early Friday morning. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)

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