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Cole Carley, Fargo, Published February 09 2013

Letter: ‘Why can’t you two get along?’

Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben wisely advised his nephew: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Apparently, neither North Dakota legislators nor the Board of Higher Education are Spider-Man fans. Both sides are digging in their heels on who’s right and who’s got “the power.” Do they not understand that power = responsibility? Apparently not.

The Legislature has been, and continues to be, too control-oriented and needs to back off and accept that they’re not experts in education. The board should think more in terms of public relations and politics.

I think they’d find it beneficial, before taking any action, to ask themselves two questions: “Who needs to know about this?” and “Whom should we engage?” Both parties might invoke the wisdom of the late Stephen Covey: “Seek first to understand; then to be understood.” In other words, work hard to be empathic, to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and really get absorbed in their concerns. Doing that might cause them to consider how they are expressing themselves and what actions they are taking.

The Legislature needs to quit acting like they have to control everything they fund. And the board needs to avoid acting like they’re somehow above all this and accept that politics are part of their reality. This latest dustup is a good example: The Forum’s editorial had it dead-on: The higher ed board should apologize to the Legislature and President Robert Kelley for not consulting or advising them of the intention to use some state funds to hollow out a space at UND for the North Dakota University System staff. And the Legislature should accept that the board hires and fires the chancellor; and that the lawmakers should back off this issue as well as attempting to control higher education. Petty is not pretty.

It’s appropriate that we’re nearing tournament time in high school sports: These two organizations are acting like they need a referee. Or a responsible parent. Gov. Jack Dalrymple perhaps? I’m sure he knows the words to “Kumbaya.”

Carley is former president/CEO of the Fargo Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau.