In deliberating over the "Myrdal Amendment" to Senate Bill No. 2030 (intended to fund scholarships for college students), members of the House Appropriations—Education and Environment Division subcommittee have publicly demonstrated their bias against women.
The Myrdal Amendment, which would empower the Legislature to dictate research and teaching at North Dakota’s colleges and universities, has many problems, including its egregious attack on the principle of academic freedom, a bedrock of higher education that drives development of new knowledge and ultimately serves the state’s communal and economic interests. Rather than allowing individuals freedom to choose, our legislators presume to limit curriculum and research.
In contrast, North Dakota’s public institutions of higher education know that they serve a broad audience, with diverse needs and interests, capable of making their own decisions. In specifically targeting a federal grant held by a North Dakota State University professor that has proven successful in promoting the prevention of teen pregnancy, the Amendment shows an utter disregard for the critical issue of women’s health.
The Amendment’s bias was underlined as the all-male House subcommittee forced NDSU faculty and administrators to defend their teaching and research, addressing the women called to testify, who hold Ph.D. degrees in their fields, by only their first names, while addressing men with their proper titles. To their credit, NDSU’s delegation responded with facts and poise. We suggest that legislators with such sexist biases should refrain from attempting to suppress research and teaching, and especially when it improves the health of adolescents.
Lisa Arnold, Moorhead; Alan Denton, Fargo; Kristine Paranica, Grand Forks; Donald Johnson, Moorhead; Linda Langley, Fargo; Heather Higgins-Dochtermann, Fargo; Ned Dochtermann, Fargo; and Jill Nelson, Fargo