University mascot offends students

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – A group of North Dakota State University student leaders strongly opposes its biggest sports rival’s nickname and wants it changed, according to a Student Senate resolution.

The resolution, authored by NDSU student Sens. Paul Yatskis, Megan Pinke and Whitney Weston, states that NDSU students are offended by University of North Dakota’s “Fighting Sioux” nickname because it “promotes racist stereotypes and disrespects American Indian people and their culture.”

“Tribal councils of all major Sioux tribes in North Dakota, along with tribes in South Dakota . . . have formally resolved that the use of the ‘Sioux’ name and logo by UND is offensive and distorts the positive cultural and spiritual traditions of American Indian people,” the legislation reads.

Student panels and groups from other schools that compete against UND athletically in recent years also have come out against the Fighting Sioux nickname, including St. Cloud State University, the University of Minnesota-Mankato and the University of South Dakota.

This is the first time NDSU’s Student Senate has weighed in on the issue.

NDSU Student Body President James Burgum wonders why the name issue is being brought up at all in Fargo.

“I think it’s going to be highly debated down here,” Burgum said.

“Just the other day I walked into a room and a group of students was debating the issue.

“But mostly people want to know why would we even be discussing this, because it’s such a highly controversial topic.

What effect does it have on NDSU?”

Burgum said the resolution will receive a first reading on Sunday and will be voted on Dec. 8.

Attempts to reach the resolution authors were unsuccessful Monday.

UND Student Body President Jon Lovseth said he first became aware of the proposed resolution a couple of weeks ago.

When asked to comment about it, he said it was too early to say anything.

In 1993, the UND Senate, a governing body comprised of faculty, administration and student representatives, voted to recommend to then-President Kendall Baker to change the nickname.

The vote was not binding, however, and Baker didn’t do it. Six years later, the UND Student Senate voted 12-to-10 to change the name, but it was vetoed by Jonathon Sickler, Student Body president at the time.

An attempt to overide Sickler’s veto failed three weeks later.

That vote was 11-to-11; a two-thirds majority was needed for a successful overide.