Keeping students top of mind in face of tough decisions

UND Student Body leaders, Brandon Beyer and Blake Andert, comment on budget situation

Blake Andert and Brandon Beyer

UND student leaders, Blake Andert and Brandon Beyer, commend University administrators for allowing more time for input and data gathering during the latest rounds of budget cuts. Photo courtesy of UND Student Government.

Editor’s note: The following is a joint statement from UND Student Body President Brandon Beyer and Student Body Vice President Blake Andert.

When UND began the Strategic Planning process last fall, one of the first questions posed to the steering group was: “Who does the University of North Dakota serve?” The group’s unanimous first response was the students. As the only student in that room, I [Brandon] found that to be quite powerful and assuring. Representatives of faculty, staff, and administrators collectively agreed that, in serving our students, we were serving UND. As the elected representatives of those students, our roles’ primary purpose is, and always will be, ensuring the welfare of those whom we serve. Much like the steering group’s call to serve students, we also believe that the progression of our students’ well-being equates to a progression in the University’s well-being.

The current budget reductions present UND with another challenge to keep those whom we educate at the forefront during the decision-making process. The issue of transparency certainly hasn’t been absent from the conversations that we’ve had with our peers during this time. While we speak with administrators on a daily basis about our University, we want to ensure that all students have access to information that gives them confidence that this process is being done fairly. UND Today, University Senate’s Budget Restructuring and Reallocation Committee, and the provost’s weekly budget forums have provided this campus with mediums to engage throughout this process.

Brandon Beyer and Blake Andert

UND Student Body President Brandon Beyer and Vice President Blake Andert (right) take part in an early UND Strategic Planning meeting at UND. Photo by Shawna Schill.

On the issue of the current process that is being conducted to address our budget concerns, we find that there are strong differences when compared with our University’s previous allotments. While we have seen this present process expedited by our state’s demands, UND has taken a sensible approach over these months in order to meet the unfortunate requirements set before us. This means that there has actually been more time for input and data gathering prior to actions being taken when compared with our spring 2016 cuts. While all may not agree with the outcomes of the process, they can be assured that UND has expanded their ability to field suggestions and information during this difficult time.

To that point, we want to make it clear that we are supportive of the actions that UND has taken to address these budget concerns thus far. As the representatives of the student body, we do not take this stance lightly. We believe that this University has taken a pragmatic approach to this challenging situation that minimizes its impacts on our students. That is why we commend our University for reducing 20 percent of our executive administrators and aggregating student services for minimal detriment to those whom we educate, all while applying a lesser 12 percent cut to our academic units.

Gordon Henry, UND’s longtime vice president for student affairs, was famous for approaching all decisions with his popular phrase, “But is it right for students?” We believe that our University has kept Mr. Henry’s quote present in mind while being faced with this very difficult time. Moving forward, we are confident that the interests of all UND students are at the center of these formidable decisions.

– UND Student Body President Brandon Beyer and Vice President Blake Andert