I largely agree with the Fargo Forum’s editorial, chastising some 89 state lawmakers for urging North Dakota State University to end a research partnership with Planned Parenthood.

“If we attempted to control research, particularly in response to political pressure, then NDSU could be violating accreditation standards, which require academic freedom and political autonomy,” NDSU President Dean Bresciani wrote in a response to the lawmakers. “We cannot risk our accreditation because, without it, NDSU would not be able to accept any federal money, including student loans and grants.”

Bresciani is right. NDSU can absolutely partner with Planned Parenthood. Nor should we make a habit of letting politicians influence the sort of academic activity which happens on even public campuses.

This particular instance of political meddling may seem appealing to North Dakota’s mostly-Republican electorate, given that it’s Republican politicians doing the meddling, but the roles in this debate would likely be reversed if we were talking about, say, a partnership with the National Rifle Association to study crime trends.

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