GRAND FORKS — University of North Dakota seniors Genrick Paulino and Miles Hoffman were a bit confused to see that the college had removed the new Fighting Hawk statue. Just the week before, the students had taken a picture with it.
"I was disappointed. I was ready to see it again," Hoffman said as he looked at a now empty cement slab behind the new student union on campus.
"We were wondering who took it," said Paulino.
It's not missing because of a prank. The 7-foot, 300-pound Fighting Hawk statue was supposed to be one of the centerpieces of the new $80 million student union on campus. Instead, it was becoming a popular photo shoot on social media for all the wrong reasons.
"In light of some concerns about potential vandalism and damage we were seeing on social media, we decided it might be in the Hawk's best interest to relocate the Hawk," said Cassie Gerhardt, who is the associate vice president of student affairs and diversity at the University of North Dakota. "The Hawk is under safe keeping for now."
After being up for just a week, the Fighting Hawk statue has been nested in an undisclosed location until the school can figure out where it will be safe to put on display. The school said it even received threats about it.
"I find it very funny it (the statue) is gone," said UND student Tyler Wolf.
"People have their passions for the University of North Dakota; for some it's not the Fighting Hawk, it's a different mascot," said Gerhardt.
For Paulino and Hoffman, they are disappointed with the immature behavior that took away some school pride from one of the busiest walkways on campus.
"(It was a) pretty cool reminder for students, something for upcoming freshmen to look at and admire along the way," said Paulino.
The incident seems to be proof the Fighting Sioux nickname debate has no plans of flying away.
"They are never going to find a solution about it," said Hoffman.
"Where I am from it's long live the Sioux," Wolf said.
The plan is to place the Fighting Hawk statue in a more secure location inside the student union, hopefully by Oct. 22, when a dedication event is planned for the union in conjunction with homecoming weekend.