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DISCRIMINATION PANEL HEARS CRITICISM OF GF

The Grand Forks Police Department, United Hospital and UND's nursing school were criticized by Mike Saunders, a member of the mayor's subcommittee on discrimination. Saunders, UND law student and member of Citizens Against Prejudice, told the other members that a UND nursing student who is an Indian had difficulty passing his internship at The United Hospital because he had trouble finding nurses to work with him. According to Saunders, the student would care for his assigned patients, but most nurses who were supposed to supervise his work would not sign the required paperwork showing that his jobs were completed, because he is an Indian.

Saunders said the student, whom he did not name, had filed a complaint at the nursing college at UND that was ignored by the faculty. "The nursing school let the whole issue drop," Saunders said. He said the student, who graduated from UND and is now working in another state, will send a letter to the subcommittee with details of his troubles at UND.

After the meeting, Ed Waldron, an associate professor at UND's medical school, said he would look into the situation at the nursing school. Saunders also compared situations he said were similar but were handled differently by police and the state's attorney office. In one instance, Saunders said, a medical student who is an Indian was beaten by UND students along University Avenue in January 1988, Saunders said that when the man wanted to file charges against the students, a lawyer in the state's attorney's office told him that the matter should be handled internally through UND.

Saunders also drew comparisons between incidents where a white boy punched an Indian girl after the Indian girl had-been taunting him and another situation where an Indian boy punched a white child. When the white boy punched the Indian girl, Saunders said Grand Forks police told her charges couldn't be filed because she had been taunting him. When the Indian boy punched the white child, Saunders said police threatened to charge him. "It just shows a difference in the way laws are applied".

In other testimony, Ben Garcia of Red River Recycling, who described himself as a Mexican American, told the subcommittee that Hispanic migrant families and those who live in the community all year face discrimination in housing and in accessibility to social services. Garcia said that when Hispanics apply for jobs at employment agencies, they are told immediately of the availability for work in fields. "It's the first thing they tell you. They don't ask if you are a mechanic, a driver or a student," Garcia said.

"People are afraid of being labeled troublemakers, prejudice, discrimination and intimidation are reasons people find it difficult to come and share discrimination with you. "It's not easy for a person of color in a system they perceive as being opposed to them to come forward," said Mike Saunders, a committee member. Committee members will host a similar forums at UND's cultural center.

Grand Forks Herald, October 31, 1990

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