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What's next? UND nickname voting details still scarce

As an intense debate on UND's nickname continues, officials at the school now must look at how to conduct a public vote. The process hasn't been developed yet, but Vice President for University and Public Affairs Susan Walton said the vote will t...

Riley and Mckenzie Carriere hold signs during a protest regarding the UND nickname on Friday, July 24, 2015, in Grand Forks, N.D. (Logan Werlinger/Grand Forks Herald)

As an intense debate on UND’s nickname continues, officials at the school now must look at how to conduct a public vote.

The process hasn’t been developed yet, but Vice President for University and Public Affairs Susan Walton said the vote will take place in the fall and President Robert Kelley will have the final say on how it will play out.

“He’ll be looking at a lot of feedback. A lot of people have offered suggestions, the nickname committee made some recommendations that he’ll consider and those details will be worked out over the next several weeks,” she said.

The UND nickname committee forwarded Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, Sundogs, North Stars and Roughriders to Kelley for a vote, but after public uproar the president announced he would consider putting UND/North Dakota , the name the school has played under that name since its Fighting Sioux logo was retired in 2012, on the list as well.

 WATCH NOW: Protesters: We want North Dakota  


UND spokesman Peter Johnson said Kelley has accepted the five names forwarded by the committee for the vote. Even though the president has the authority, Johnson didn’t think any other changes would be made to the list other than the potential UND/North Dakota addition.

The committee also recommended limiting the ability to vote to students, alumni, university employees, North Dakota citizens and donors as determined by the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, but Committee Chairman Karl Goehring said Kelley had told him in the past he wanted the voting process to be as inclusive as possible.

More questions Creating a voting process will take several weeks, Walton said, but will be completed by the beginning of the upcoming fall semester so a vote can be held after students have returned to UND’s campus.

UND isn’t alone is letting the public pick its logo; Marquette University in Wisconsin went through a nickname vote in 2005 using an online and call-in system, and Scottsdale Community College in Arizona plays as the Artichokes after students voted for that mascot as a form of protest in the 1970s.

Johnson said the public affairs office would assist Kelley in developing a voting process.

The recently disbanded nickname committee, which won’t meet again, sought public suggestions throughout April in the form of an online submission form and paper mail-ins. People could submit as many names, as many times as they wanted.

When asked how the school would limit voter fraud, Walton said it was something that would be taken into consideration while coming up with the process.

“A good voting process is one that's easy to use, secure and can deliver final results quickly and completely, so part of our task will be combining that understanding and feedback to put together a process that will work,” she said.


While the options are open and the possibility of having more than one round of voting exists, Johnson and Walton both said they doubted that would happen.

When a vote is finally held and the most popular name emerges, Johnson said he believes the president would honor the public’s choice.

Beginning last fall, the committee and the prior task force were to develop the process to pick a nickname and then follow that process, which resulted in the narrowed-down list of five options. This means logo development will occur later after a name is picked, and that process hasn't been outlined either.

The university is currently not taking logo submissions or ideas from the public.

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