Regardless of her political aspirations and views, Miss Heitkamp graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Arts in 1977. Raised in Mantador, North Dakota, her views on the battling being waged between the UND women's hockey program and UND's administration were front-and-center on ESPN today as Outside The Lines interviewed Miss Heitkamp about the canceling of the program.
The one key line she stated in this interview was, "According to them, it's a done deal." And that's a heartbreaking statement coming from someone who represents a vast number of people in the state who may be UND supporters. Of course, many of them may not be, but she is a representative of all the people in North Dakota. And despite her insistence regarding the importance of the program, it sounds as if the administration cares not for Miss Heitkamp's opinion.
The budget shortfall that is affecting the university so deeply was, according to Tyler Axness of ND xPlains, caused by North Dakota legislature pushing ahead in 2008 with cuts to corporate and personal income taxes "over the next four legislative sessions while simultaneously increasing spending" that was "coupled with a 23% oil extraction tax cut". You can read through the vast number of cuts that the state imposed over the last decade that has led them to this financial crisis, but there was a lot of money left on the table by legislators that would certainly go to covering the $1.9 million bill for women's hockey as stated on Outside The Lines.
I have no horse in this race whatsoever outside of the fact that I enjoy watching UND women's hockey. I'm not here to discuss politics, and I don't have a vote in North Dakota when it comes to sending a message to local legislators for their past indiscretions that have led to the massive cuts happening across the state. While there's an online petition happening in an effort to get the school to reinstate the program, it seems as though all these efforts are going to be ignored by UND's administration.
While you may not be able to vote on who runs UND or makes the major decisions there, you can send a major message to those who determine the budget of the school. This is more than just the UND women's hockey program. This is about the swimming programs, the baseball program, and the golf program - all programs that have been cut in recent years. This is about the $5 million cut to Medical and Heath services department. This is about the thousands of students who will experience cuts of some kind to all faculties and services at the school.
We talk about creating a better future for our children, but it's hard to do that when we continue to cut services and opportunities for them to achieve more. This isn't a hockey issue; rather, it's about making our future better by ensuring that all kids, regardless of their chosen pursuit, can achieve more.
When the opportunity arises, send a clear message to those in the North Dakota House by making your voice heard regarding their gross mismanagement of public funds. It's your future they are destroying, not just the future of 26 innocent women.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!