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NDSU's Bresciani expected pushback on changing school song's racial language

FARGO - The president of North Dakota State University expected backlash when he called for an immediate revision to the school song, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive, he said Friday.

North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani
North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani gives the State of the University address Oct. 4, 2012, on campus. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO – The president of North Dakota State University expected backlash when he  called for an immediate revision to the school song , but the response has been overwhelmingly positive, he said Friday.

"I've been very pleased," Dean Bresciani told the executive governing board of the NDSU Development Foundation and Alumni Association. "I would have expected more pushback, and the university community, I think, has just been monstrously supportive of this notion of, 'You did the right thing.' "

Last month, Bresciani emailed campus to say NDSU would remove the second and third verse of "The Yellow and the Green" from university websites and publications, due to "troubling" cultural references in the third verse. The anonymous complaint that inspired the action took issue with the phrase, "the red man."

Since then, Bresciani said he had received a "handful, at best, of complaints, most of which thought we were dispensing with the entire song, and once we clarified that, they said, 'Oh, well, never mind.' "

A committee of students, faculty and staff has been formed to study the song and offer recommendations on how to balance tradition with appropriateness.

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Some faculty are interested in putting an asterisk at the end of the first verse, noting there were a second and third verse, and turning this into an educational opportunity, Bresciani said Friday.

The committee will bring recommendations to him by the end of the semester.

"We did take a very quick action and that's been commended as well, not having this be something that stretches out and becomes an embarrassing debate," he said.

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