In Defense of North Dakota

Despite frigid temperatures, the Grand Forks community offers outdoor events during the fall and winter months such as the Holly Dazzle Festival of Lights. Nick Nelson / Dakota Student

Dakota Student / Nicholas Nelson

Despite frigid temperatures, the Grand Forks community offers outdoor events during the fall and winter months such as the Holly Dazzle Festival of Lights. Nick Nelson / Dakota Student

Bilal Suleiman, Opinion Columnist


As a son of North Dakota, it irks me to hear my fellow university students trash our great state. Maybe its because it’s the only place I have ever lived in, but I don’t think it’s bad to live here as some make it out to be. Obviously, it’s not the most exciting place in the world. Yes, the long winters are a drag. For better or for worse, however, we are all here for some reason. Therefore, North Dakota is better than the alternative state to our east: Minnesota.

It’s cold here. Like, record-breaking cold. Grand Forks is consistently rated as one of the coldest cities in the country. I get that. Despite some of the big complaints about North Dakota, I believe that with every negative aspect of this state, there is a positive. You just need to look hard enough.

North Dakota’s brutal, windy winters create some of the toughest and most resilient citizens in the union, possibly only topped by Alaska (It’s super cold plus they’re all alone). North Dakotans will jokingly complain about the winter, then grit their teeth and do whatever they were going to do any ways.

The bitter cold also has the positive effect of keeping the riff-raff out of our calm, peaceful state. The statistics won’t back me up on this, as the oil boom led to a lot of unsavory folk coming into North Dakota and committing crimes. This brings me to my next point.

North Dakota’s economy is rock solid, or at least as solid as the shale we drill our oil out of. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Dakota’s unemployment rate ranks second in the nation at 2.6%. You must go down to 10th place in the rankings to find our dear neighbor Minnesota, with an unemployment rate of 3.1%. Not a huge difference, I know, but in this border battle even just a half percent does matter.

That half percent might have something to do with why North Dakota has such a low state income tax. According to Investopedia, North Dakota has the lowest state income tax amongst states that levy an income tax, at 1.51%. That rate is based on a median income of $26,989 as a single adult. Compare that with Minnesota’s rate of 7.05%, which earned it the notoriety of having the 5th highest state income tax in the nation.

Have you ever been pulled over for speeding in North Dakota? It’s no big deal. Your punishment for going over the speed limit is just a $20 dollar ticket and a couple points off your license. The same is not true on the other side of the Red River. My friend was pulled over going just 4 mph over the speed limit in a suburb of the Twin Cities and was subsequently slapped with a $180 ticket. Ouch. Apparently, Minnesota isn’t pulling in enough revenue from their 7.05% state income tax.

Speeding tickets aren’t the only area where Minnesota likes to charge an exorbitant amount of money. The cost of tuition and fees at the University of Minnesota for comes up to $14,448 a year for in-state students. To avoid paying this much for an education, simply travel five hours northwest and come to the University of North Dakota, where tuition for the same student will only cost $8,448 a year. This, I suspect, is the reason why 33% percent of UND’s student body is from Minnesota.

Fellow staff writer and UND basketball player Jill Morton seems to be fond of ripping North Dakota whenever she has the chance, based on her previously published articles titled “Cold Weather Blues” and “North Dakota Doesn’t Know How to Plow.” To Jill, and all others who hate on North Dakota, I’d like to offer a rebuttal: At least we’re not Minnesota.

Bilal Suleiman is an opinion columnist for the Dakota Student. HE can be reached at [email protected]