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.