A North Dakota State University school song will come under review due to “troubling” lyrics in a seldom-heard stanza.
In a letter to the campus community sent Wednesday, NDSU President Dean Bresciani said he was notified that the third stanza of the song contains cultural and ethnic references that are “troubling” by modern standards.
The school in Fargo will be removing all but the first stanza of the song from all university websites and publications, which Bresciani called an “intermediary but immediate” step. In addition, Timothy Alvarez, vice president for student affairs at NDSU, and Provost Beth Ingram will gather students, staff and faculty to discuss how to balance the history of the song with the need to be appropriate.
The third part of the song reads:
Hushed upon the boundless prairies
Is the bison’s thund’ring tread,
And the red man passes with him
On his spoilers’ bounty fed.
But the Norse, the Celt and Saxon
With their herd increase, and find
Mid these fields of green and yellow
Plenty e’en for all mankind.
Bresciani said he had never heard that part of the song performed, but was notified of the issue through the university’s anonymous reporting system for bias issues.
“Our school song, the ‘Yellow and the Green,’ has been a long-standing and broadly enjoyed tradition of our campus since 1908. Typically it is only performed through its first stanza; to be honest I have never heard it beyond that and I suspect most in our University community are like me,” he said in the release.
Bresciani said some may find his reaction an “overstated concern,” while others “will find it central to a deep and sober examination of our campus history.”
The change comes months after the University of North Dakota changed their team name to “The Fighting Hawks.” UND, in Grand Forks, also faced criticism earlier this month for continuing to sell merchandise with the old “Fighting Sioux” name and logo.
Ben Farniok is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.