U. of North Dakota Professor Resigns, Citing Rejection of Proposed Lectures on Pipeline Protests

A journalism professor at the University of North Dakota resigned on Thursday after he said the institution had rejected his proposal to lead a lecture series on protests over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The proposed lectures would have covered how the Standing Rock Tribe, which led the protests, was discussed on social media, and it was the second proposal about the protests to be rejected, said the professor, Mark Trahant, according to Associated Press.

When asked last year to create a journalism lecture series, Mr. Trahant, who held an endowed chair, said he had proposed inviting journalists who had covered the pipeline protests. After that proposal was rejected and the series was “put on hold,” Mr. Trahant this year offered a new proposal, about social media and Standing Rock, which was also rejected. Mr. Trahant is a member of Idaho’s Shoshone-Bannock Tribe and a former president of the Native American Journalists Association.

Mr. Trahant said the decision on his proposal had been made by the “provost’s and president’s office.” Mark Kennedy, the university’s president, denied he had played any role in canceling Mr. Trahant’s proposed lecture series, the AP reported.

The professor said a reason for the rejection was that “senior administration fears that the [state] legislature might retaliate.” A university official said senior administrators had never “expressed any fear of retaliation by the North Dakota legislature.”

Mr. Trahant said he was “disappointed” in the university for not serving as a leader in the state. The university “should be a beam of light, shining on the protected realm of rational discourse,” he wrote.

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