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Raw DS Article: What We at UND Have to be Thankful For

November 24, 2008

Note: I was recently informed by my editor that this article will be the main article in the Features section of the Dakota Student. Oh boy!

Thanksgiving has come again. It’s the time of the year where Americans celebrate all that they are thankful for in a truly American way: eating too much, being lethargic, and yelling at a TV screen. It is a time for that obligatory few-times-a-year where one has to sit through a family dinner with the embarrassing and/or strange members of the family. This time of year also traditionally marks the time where Christmas decorations and gifts go on sale. Unfortunately, due to the phenomena known as “Christmas Creep,” this occasion now occurs on or around the Fourth of July. Each and every one of us red, white and blue blooded Americans takes the time to reflect on what exactly we are thankful for. Using my specially developed skills at harnessing the collective conciousness of everyone on UND’s campus, I would like to present to you the comprehensive list of things that the collective body known as the University of North Dakota is thankful for.

UND students represent the largest contingent of people at UND—nearly 13,000 at last count. As a member of the student body, I see, hear and experience many things that we as a student body should be thankful for. First and foremost, we UND students are most thankful for two important groups on campus: Student Government and Student Academic “Services.” Without these two groups of people, most of us wouldn’t have much to complain about. Why divert student fees to a special pet project of a few Student Senators? Why do more work than we have to when there is an outside company that can take our students’ personal information and charge them exorbitant fees? Thank you, Student Government and Student Academic “Services!”

As a part-time student employee, I see and hear of several things that my fellow coworkers are thankful for. Over the last few months, the primary source of praise and thanks is the UND Parking Office. I mean…who wouldn’t be thankful for a proposal that would increase the cost and privilege of parking on-campus 300%, all because of gross financial mismanagement by the office and University administration? I, for one, am thankful for the fact that should someone come and collect on all of the outstanding bonds that the University has responsibility for, we would be in default. If there’s anything our federal government has recently taught us, it is that if you screw up enough, there might be $600 billion laying around to bail you out. Maybe we should try and appropriate some of those funds for ourselves. On a related note, several front-line Parking Office employees have continually showed their thanks and appreciation for me and my fellow students as customers by treating us like little more than retention pond scum. Thanks!

On the west end of campus lies a place I’ve considered to be close to my heart since 2001—the School of Aerospace Sciences. Students and employees in this department have a lot to be thankful for—several brand new Cessna 172s, a newly painted Cessna 150, a Citation Mustang, and the simple joy and opportunity at being able to have the privilege to fly an airplane. UND students are especially thankful for the latter, when they aren’t being cancelled due to aircraft maintenance and poor fleet planning. UND Aerospace thanks their employees through several programs designed to increase morale and confusion. The Winter Celebration is a time for everyone in the department to gather together at the Alerus Center and wonder collectively why they just don’t call it a Christmas party (as one of the few Jewish employees in the department, I’d like to say that it is perfectly fine with me). They have also thanked several of their hardest working flight instructors by reducing their pay and giving them reprimands for working too hard. All for the better of course—we are “providing the highest quality of education at the lowest cost to the student*” (the second half of this phrase is now conveniently left off several signs, thank you very much).

While much of this article has been dripping with sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek references to things that might not be right here, there is a lot out there that we at UND have to be thankful for. For the most part, we live in a community that is supportive of one another and one that is willing and wanting to change for the better. Our school’s new President has already demonstrated that he is willing to act and plan in the best interest of everyone on campus—students, faculty, staff, and the community. As we head home for Thanksgiving, please make sure to take the time and be thankful for the fact that we are lucky to attend a school like UND and live in a community like Grand Forks. Happy Thanksgiving!

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