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Anti-Casino Group in North Dakota Fears Student Vote

12 May 2006

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - (As reported by the Grand Forks Herald): "Many who oppose a proposed Indian casino here evidently think (UND students could be a potent political force) because they're asking the City Council not to put the issue on the ballot in part for fear of the student vote.

"… in a memo to council members (the Grand Forks Casino Petition Committee) writes: 'UND students can vote and, although UND contributes greatly to our community, most students don't have a long term interest here and wouldn't have to suffer the consequences imposed by this casino.'

"… Is it fair to deliberately keep students' voices out of the political process?

"… 'The sentiment that students are annoyances is something we've dealt with a while,' said Chris Braden, recently the government affairs commissioner for student government. 'This is the very first time we've flat-out heard we don't want students participating.'

"… (Jerry Hjelden, the head of the Grand Forks Casino Petition Committee) said he's got nothing against students. 'I recognize the contribution that UND makes to the community,' he said, 'but there are consequences to this casino that will be borne by longtime residents.'

"Council President Hal Gershman, who supports a public vote on the casino, said he felt it was unfair to single students out in this way.

"… "It's an insult to students, frankly," he said.

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