A large number of people are in favor of choosing a new nickname for UND quickly and think alumni should have the biggest stake in that process, according to survey data discussed by UND’s new nickname task force Monday.  

Members of UND's Nickname and Logo Process Recommendation Task Force reviewed the results of an online survey that was open to the public last month.

When asked their opinion of how the timeline should look if the task force chooses to create a plan that ends with picking a new nickname, 30 percent of respondents said they would be in favor of picking a new nickname within the next year, leaving flexibility to make sure the process is thoroughly vetted, and 29 percent said they would be in favor of picking a new nickname as soon as possible.

According to members, responses were divided among those who wanted to adopt a new nickname, those who want to return to the old Fighting Sioux name and those in favor of not using any nickname.

About 7,600 people completed the survey, 64 percent of whom were alumni and 15 percent current students. The rest of the respondents classified themselves under various other groups, such as UND administrators, staff or community members.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

The Fighting Sioux name was retired in late 2012, and the task force was appointed in September and was given the task of developing a plan that will be used to pick a new nickname, which the school can legally do as of Jan. 1, 2015. Since the nickname was retired, the school has been playing simply as “UND.”

The task force showed surprise that 51 percent of respondents said they had strong opinions about the issue but were open to what was best for UND.

Task force member and UND professor Sue Jeno said some of the results mirrored the groups that answered the survey.

For example, respondents said UND alumni should have the biggest say in choosing a new name and current students came in second place.

On the other end of the spectrum, the group with the fewest votes for having a say was the state Legislature.

While UND has been criticized by some at the task force’s other in-person meetings across the state, 53 percent of respondents said they agreed that they felt their input was helping the task force and only 12 percent said they disagreed or strongly disagreed with that statement.

“This is telling you very clearly the majority of people have confidence that you're listening," consultant Kelly O’Keefe said. O’Keefe is a professor of advertising at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter in Richmond, Va., who is one of two mediators leading the task force through the process.

The comment section of the survey allowed people to write freely and many respondents voiced passionate support for the old Fighting Sioux name, writing things like “You went against a death wish, if I were Ralph E. I would ask for my money back,” and “Fighting Sioux or no name!”

Jeno said there were about 300 comments made per question on the survey and that she read every single one of them. She said overall, it seemed people were split into three distinct groups; those who wanted a new nickname, those who would never move on from the Fighting Sioux, and those who wanted the nickname to remain UND, either because it would be unique or because it would honor the former nickname by not replacing it.

As the task force moves forward, they'll be using an online document sharing website where the public will be able to see the plan being developed.

The documents can be accessed at http://bit.ly/1GbRj7Y and will be made available soon on the task force’s website at und.edu/upa.

But the task force hasn’t decided whether they will recommend a process that will end in choosing a new nickname or keeping UND.

“It’s clear there’s a need to move on but I haven’t had enough time with the data to know I have an unequivocal response in that way,” Task force member and UND professor Jim Mochoruk said.

But task force members did have ideas; Mochoruk said he hopes if the group decides to appoint another committee, its members should be elected rather than appointed. The task force also agreed they want to address the people who have said they’ll never let go of the Fighting Sioux.

Task force member and UND alumnus Karl Goehring said he wants to “eliminate the conspiracy theories,” as they write the plan so that people are aware the task force acts entirely on its own.

“UND administration is helping us, not directing us,” task force member and UND Staff Senate PresidentSharley Kurtz said.

Everything written in the task force’s online site is a draft until it is presented to President Robert Kelley later this month.