Judge orders NDSU students to write pro-UND essays after prank

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Two North Dakota State University students were sentenced to write essays about why rival University of North Dakota is a good school after they were caught pulling a prank at the university.

Three students were arrested after they were caught tampering with a sign at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center on UND's campus in October, apparently trying to hang a Bison-pride sign at "the Betty," the NDSU Spectrum reported.

When police arrived, the students fled from officers and were eventually charged with refusing to halt for a peace officer, a misdemeanor, Valley News Live reported.

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Kyle Mason and William Ogdahl both pleaded guilty to the charge last month and Judge Lee Christofferson, a UND grad, fined them each $225 and ordered them both to write a two-page report about why UND is a good school, according to Grand Forks County court records.

Christofferson told Mason and Ogdahl, who were kicked off the homecoming court following their arrests, that they shouldn't use Wikipedia as a source for the assignment, the Spectrum said.

The Grand Forks Herald analyzed the essays and said Mason's essay read like Wikipedia, "listing off mundane facts about UND," but stopped short of "copying and pasting" from the website, while "Ogdahl's essay appears to draw heavily from Wikipedia, with some sentences only slightly rearranged or reworded," although no courses were cited.

The newspaper published the two essays. You can read them here.

Court records show both Mason and Ogdahl's cases are considered closed.

A third man was also charged in connection with the prank. Alan Patterson pleaded not guilty to the same charges. He has a pretrial conference set for Dec. 18, court records show.

Valley News Live says it's likely Patterson's case will end up in a plea bargain, and if it does the judge has already said he'll be required to also write a two-page report on why UND is a good school.

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