Pride Week highlights UND’s commitment to LGBTQ+ community

Annual event is about celebrating diversity and building community

UND President Andy Armacost speaks during a Pride Week event sponsored by the University at the Archives Coffee Shop. Photo by Patrick C. Miller/UND Today.

The last weekend of Grand Forks Pride week provided an opportunity not only for UND to celebrate local diversity, but also to let members of the LGBTQ+ community know the University supports them.

Last Friday evening, UND President Andy Armacost and Vice President for Student Affairs and Diversity Cara Halgren spoke during a University-sponsored barbecue at the Archives Coffee Shop to kick off events culminating Pride Week activities.

Pride Week decorations

“It’s with great pleasure that I join you tonight to say thank you for all that you do for UND and know that you have an ally and a friend in the office of the president,” Armacost said. “You can seek me out any time you need me, any time you need my support. That is an earnest offer.”

Event organizer Kyle Thorson – owner of Archives – said it’s the fifth year Pride Week has been held in Grand Forks. He said hundreds of people turned out during the week for a variety of activities for all ages.

“It’s kind of a big year for us, especially after COVID,” Thorson noted. “We’re pretty excited to be getting back together.”

Thorson explained that although Pride Week is about celebrating and having a good time, there’s a larger objective.

“Our biggest goal is community-building,” he explained. “Our purpose is for people to remember that we’re all one human family. It’s about having a little fun. It’s about being visible, participating with one another and just making a community.”

Halgren, whom Armacost called “a fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ issues,” echoed his message of support and praised the community’s efforts.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work that so many of our folks here in the community have done on behalf of our students,” Halgren said. “It’s important that UND continues its commitment to LGBTQ+ members of our community.”

The UND-sponsored Pride Week barbecue was held last week at the Archives Coffee Shop. Photo by Patrick C. Miller.

During his remarks, Armacost referred to his experience at the U.S. Air Force Academy as the Dean of Faculty. Because of the assistance he provided the Academy’s LGBTQ+ students, they presented him with a miniature version of the sabre cadets receive when they graduate. He held up the gift as he fondly recalled the gesture.

The story resonated with Pride Week organizer Sarah Galbraith, who told Armacost how much she appreciated his touching tribute.

“With my background with the Air Force here in Grand Forks, it was an honor to have that story told,” she said. “We now have someone who’s president of UND saying, ‘You’re welcome here.’ As an ally and somebody in the community who works with youth and works with UND, it’s pretty cool to see.”

Halgren noted the response she’s received related to how UND’s approach to members of the LGBTQ+ community has evolved.

Cara Halgren, UND Vice President for Student Affairs and Diversity, spoke on the University’s commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Photo by Patrick C. Miller/UND Today.

“One of the things I’ve been heartened by is the number of alumni who have talked to me about their own experiences at UND,” she said. “They recognize the strides we’ve taken, and they talk about how they wish that they had these experiences when they were students at UND.”

Armacost told those gathered for Pride Week at Archives, “Today, we celebrate that joy of togetherness, of achievement and of perseverance. I am proud to be your president, your ally and your friend.”