‘The Yellow and the Green’ Finds Controversy

North Dakota State’s alma mater, “The Yellow and the Green,” is under review for cultural and racial references.

“Through our University’s system for confidential reporting of bias issues, I’ve learned that the third stanza (of ‘The Yellow and the Green’)  contains a variety of cultural and ethnic references which by contemporary standards are troubling,” Bresciani said in a Listserv on Wednesday.

The bias report Bresciani refers to was filed on Feb. 10, said Sadie Rudolph, university media relations coordinator.

Bresciani said two actions must be taken, the first being the immediate and intermediary removal of all but the first stanza of the song from all NDSU websites and publications.

The second task was to ask Provost Beth Ingram and vice president for student affairs Timothy Alvarez to bring a faculty, staff and student group together to “study the song in its entirety and offer recommendations on the balance between our history and tradition of the song with contemporary concerns for its appropriateness.”

Rudolph was unable to say if there were a timeline regarding the advisory group for the song at press time.

“My intention is that the thoughtful and respectful conversation our campus community has traditionally valued will come from doing so,” Bresciani said.

In 1907, Archibald E. Minard penned the song’s lyrics, though not many know of the last three stanzas.

“I have never heard it beyond (the first stanza) and I suspect most in our University community are like me,” Bresciani said about the third stanza of the song.

“The only discussions I’m aware of have been between my colleague Warren Olfert and myself about how bad and inappropriate the poetry is in verses 2 and 3,” said Sigurd Johnson, director of athletic bands and percussion. “We sing the song very often here in the music school of course – and we never sing beyond the first verse – which we all think is lovely.”

A poll of 50 random NDSU students conducted by The Spectrum found that of those polled, two had had known of the third stanza of the school song before Bresciani’s email Wednesday.

Lyrics for the third stanza as found in the North Dakota Agricultural College 1908 yearbook are:

“Hushed upon the boundless prairies

Is the bison’s thundering tread,

And the red man passes with him

On his spoiler’s bounty fed.

But the Norse, the Celt and Saxon

With their herd increase and find

Mid these fields of green and yellow

Plenty e’en for all mankind.”

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