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Dakota Student

Don’t vote for Owen

Matt Eidson, News Editor

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As a United States Marine who has long since left active duty to attend the University of North Dakota, there are several lessons I carried with me from my training. One notion that continues to shape my personality is the idea that being a “well-rounded” Marine is a worthwhile goal.

By being “well-rounded,” my superiors in the Marine Corps meant gaining proficiency in all areas of my occupation. It wasn’t enough to have a high score on my yearly physical fitness test, or to understand troubleshooting methods for radio equipment that might one day save my life in Iraq or Afghanistan. I had to become proficient at everything.

“It is because of this insistence for quality and well-rounded behavior that I cannot, as a student of UND, stand behind John Bjorklund and Dave Owen as they campaign for Student Body President and Vice President, respectfully.”

— Matt Eidson

If I didn’t score very high on my yearly rifle qualification with the M16, I practiced the basics until I raised my score the next time. If I was exhausted after a 12-mile hike with my combat gear on my back, I bore the weight during my free time and hiked the mountains of Camp Pendleton, Calif. until I built my endurance. 

Since leaving the Corps, the only thing that has changed is I no longer strive to be a well-rounded Marine, I strive to be a well-rounded man, instead.

I hold myself to a high standard, and as such, I hold those around me to the same standard. When observing others, I dissect their actions and search for that same “well-rounded” personality that I strive for. Because in life, as in the Marines, it’s not enough to be proficient in select areas of one’s life, a person must strive to gain proficiency in all areas of their life.

In searching for that well-rounded personality in other people, I commonly do the same with those who wish to hold political office. An elected official, ideally, embodies the best and brightest of the population they represent. The elected official is selected to represent those who elected them in a manner that is becoming to not only themselves, but also their area of representation.

I do not merely hold this standard to nationally elected officials, I hold it to elected officials on every scale, to include the UND Student Government.

It is because of this insistence for quality and well-rounded behavior that I cannot, as a student of UND, stand behind John Bjorklund and Dave Owen as they campaign for Student Body President and Vice President, respectfully.

“I write this not as a representative of the Dakota Student. These thoughts reflect my own and no other, and are in no way affiliated with the Dakota Student or its staff.”

— Matt Eidson

By making this statement, I do not wish to demean or vilify the character of Mr. Bjorklund. I have never met him and know very little about him. To be honest, what I do know about him, I respect.

As I read his campaign promises, I enjoyed the fact he discusses fiscal responsibility, especially in a time of budget restraints at UND. And as I am a Marine, I especially like the fact that he is a veteran of the United States military.

However, there is one thing Mr. Bjorklund has done that, unfortunately, makes me question his judgment and ability to lead the student body: his decision to select Dave Owen as his running mate.

I have worked with Mr. Owen for quite some time at UND. As a former opinion editor for the Dakota Student, Mr. Owen would be near me as I finished my duties as the news editor. It was in these close quarters that I began to examine Mr. Owen’s personality as I would every person around me. I began to look for those well-rounded qualities. Unfortunately, I found that Mr. Owen was not well-rounded at all.

Mr. Owen is an intelligent person with a passion for politics that is not often seen. However, along with this intelligence comes a pattern of disrespectful behavior that I have not witnessed in all my 29 years. Along with being disrespectful, he is deceitful. This becomes apparent when you consider what is written about him on his and Mr. Bjorklund’s campaign Facebook page.

The Bjorklund & Owen for UND Facebook page posted a quick description of Mr. Owen’s qualifications on Feb. 12, 2017. The description included a section that read, “Shortly after arriving at UND, Dave became a local writer for the Dakota Student, quickly rising to the rank of editor in less than 1 year, despite having no prior experience in the field of journalism…”

This is interesting in its deception. Because what it fails to mention is that Mr. Owen was terminated from the Dakota Student last year for misrepresenting himself as a reporter for the Dakota Student and failing to complete payroll timesheets. He quoted an administrator during a conversation he had with her as a private citizen, not a reporter. He also failed to state his intention to use the administrator’s quotes in an article he later wrote.

Despite this, Mr. Owen was given a second chance in fall of 2016, when he was hired by the Dakota Student to act as the news editor. Shortly afterward, he switched positions and became the opinion editor.

Throughout the fall 2016 semester, Mr. Owen exhibited behavior that was consistently disrespectful to his fellow editors and subordinates. His inexcusable behavior led to his voluntary demotion to “staff writer,” which he still holds this semester, though as a candidate for Vice President of UND Student Government, he is only allowed to submit opinion articles.

I suppose it’s entirely possible that Mr. Owen simply forgot to mention in his “Meet Your Candidate” post that he was demoted for his inability to work with others in a respectful and dignified manner. But that sort of forgetfulness seems awfully convenient.

I would like to end by stressing a very important fact: I write this not as a representative of the Dakota Student. These thoughts reflect my own and no other, and are in no way affiliated with the Dakota Student or its staff. I say this for several reasons. It is responsible journalism to clearly state whether an article being presented is opinion-based or not, especially in these times of “fake news.”

Another reason I make this statement is because when Mr. Owen reads this piece, as I’m sure he will, I have no doubt he will attempt to slander and demean the Dakota Student as “fake news” because of my harsh words toward him. This is absolutely not the case, because as I clearly stated above, these words represent my own, not the Dakota Student.

“I hope that you will consider the candidates carefully, because as elected officials, it will be their job to represent our great university in a positive and respectful manner. And in this student’s opinion, Dave Owen is not the man for the job.”

— Matt Eidson

In fact, to ensure that this opinion piece is received as my own voice, which is not representative of the Dakota Student in any way, shape or form, I will be refusing payment for the writing and publication of this story. As a news editor for the Dakota Student, I am entitled to payment for any work I produce that is used for publication, but in this case, I’ll make an exception.

As I write this, the date is Saturday, March 4. Anybody who doubts that I refused payment for what I have written above will be emailed a copy, upon request, of my timesheet when I submit my hours on March 16. You need only email me at stewart.eidson@und.edu.

As these words are my opinion, I fully understand and accept that not everyone will agree with me. I invite anyone who either agrees or disagrees with me to write a letter to the editor, which will be included in the next issue of the Dakota Student.

As a student, you are left with an important choice. You have, at the time of this publication, three options for president/VP of the student body. I hope that you will consider the candidates carefully, because as elected officials, it will be their job to represent our great university in a positive and respectful manner. And in this student’s opinion, Dave Owen is not the man for the job.

Matt Eidson is the news editor for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at stewart.eidson@und.edu

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Don’t vote for Owen