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Forum staff reports , Published September 11 2012

NDSU President Bresciani sends campus-wide email after Bison football petition fraud allegations

FARGO – North Dakota State President Dean Bresciani sent out a campus-wide email Tuesday that addresses “understandable questions” about the petition fraud allegations against 10 current players on the Bison football team.

Fifteen people were charged late last week for violating North Dakota election law, all of them allegedly telling investigators they forged names on petitions that sought public votes to establish a conservation fund and legalize medicinal marijuana. Both petitions failed after nearly 25,000 submitted signatures were rejected by the state.

Thirteen of the 15 defendants facing a misdemeanor charge are either current or former NDSU football players, including three former players. Monday, Bison head coach Craig Bohl said the players will face discipline but will not be suspended. Athletic director Gene Taylor first said the players wouldn’t be suspended in comments he made after Saturday’s win over Colorado State.

Here is the email Bresciani sent to the campus:

Dear Campus Community,

Recent events and media portrayals of these events have left many on our campus with understandable questions. Given that, I would like to offer some clarification of University disciplinary policies that I think you will find helpful.

In addition to civil or criminal penalties, students who are charged with a crime are subject to a campus disciplinary process, which is conducted through the Dean of Student Life office as outlined in the code of student conduct, http://www.ndsu.edu/fileadmin/studentlife/StudentCode.pdf.

To reiterate directly from the code: “When students commit acts that are also violations of community, state or federal laws, on or off campus, those students will be subject to the same civil and/or criminal penalties as any other citizen in addition to campus resolution. Campus resolution of such acts may proceed before, during or after the civil or criminal proceedings have concluded.”

Students involved in co-curricular activities also are subject to disciplinary review and sanctions by their organizations.

The criminal, civil, University and organizational processes may and often do overlap. We take seriously our responsibility to cooperate with external investigations, and at times prioritize that step. We also balance that with consistent application of our own student disciplinary procedures.

In the case of recent situations I referenced above, the University immediately and completely cooperated with investigating authorities. Our doing so reduced what would have been months of effort on their part to a matter of days.

Unfortunately, though, because the University process has not been widely reported, some have perceived that the University is not taking action, or not acting quickly, which is not the case. We must carefully observe federal student privacy laws, and for campus administrators, including me, who have a role in the student discipline process, it is inappropriate to become directly involved in or comment on situations under review. I can appreciate that for people not involved in the process that all can be misinterpreted as a lack of action by the University.

As I have said many times, NDSU is committed to an environment of good stewardship, and please be assured, we are working within our policies to address disciplinary matters.

Dean Bresciani