Jeff Maliskey

Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education, Health & Behavior Studies

First Advisor

Diana D'Amico Pawlewicz


This study explores the queer history of the University of North Dakota from 1980 to present day and demonstrates how LGBTQ+ student activism lead to the development of LGBTQ+ programs and services at the University. Situated in a socially and politically conservative state, the University of North Dakota provides an understanding of how LGBTQ+ students organized in the 1980s out of necessity to combat social opposition and discriminatory state legislation. LGBTQ+ students were burdened with the responsibility to create their own support services and resources as there is no historical evidence of the university administration taking steps to improve the campus environment for LGBTQ+ students prior to the development of programs and services in 2017. This study contributes to the historical study of LGBTQ+ people by centering on LGBTQ+ student activism in higher education. Grounded in critical historical inquiry, oral history interviews, and primary source evidence aids in telling a more complete story of queer history at the University and connecting it to the current affairs and status on the institutional commitment to LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff. It also uses queer theory as a theoretical framework to guide and understanding of LGBTQ+ student experiences and the oppression they faced that lead to queer resistance. This study argues how LGBTQ+ student advocacy and activism was the driving force for the University of North Dakota, the flagship university in the state, to become a cultural battleground in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality.