OUR OPINION: Listen to local voices on UND nickname
As the North Dakota House takes up the question today of UND's Fighting Sioux nickname, here's something for lawmakers to consider: The closer you get to UND, the less support you seem to find for keeping the nickname in defiance of the NCAA. For...
As the North Dakota House takes up the question today of UND's Fighting Sioux nickname, here's something for lawmakers to consider:
The closer you get to UND, the less support you seem to find for keeping the nickname in defiance of the NCAA.
For example, Grand Forks legislators are remarkably unenthusiastic. Few have spoken up to strongly support the pro-nickname bills.
Those lawmakers represent districts packed with UND's most rabid fans. Why haven't those fans pushed their representatives into the leadership on this issue? Why were the bills written and are principally supported by lawmakers from out of town?
Maybe because Grand Forks has the most to lose once the consequences start rolling down. When the NCAA rules Grand Forks off-limits for postseason games; when UND players must start their championship roars with a whimper -- namely, changing their jerseys in accordance with NCAA postseason rules; when other schools announce that won't play UND in certain sports -- it'll be UND and Grand Forks that suffer, not Fargo, Dickinson or Bismarck.
Maybe that's why the city that's actually the home of UND seems the least inclined to force a confrontation with the NCAA.
The UND Senate voted against the House bills -- overwhelmingly, one might add; the vote was 44-1.
Yes, but that body favors faculty and staff in some way, and "we all know" of the power of political correctness in academia, critics charge.
But the UND Student Senate voted to oppose the bills, too. That's harder to explain away. After all, if there's any group that one might think would be loud and proud in its nickname support, it would be UND's current students, a population not exactly known for its shyness and reserve.
But that support didn't materialize. Instead, just the opposite happened. Again, why?
A Herald story on the vote explained it this way: "Bakke and Hauschild expressed concern that these bills would affect UND Athletics negatively, costing the university athletic games and revenue for the university."
That would be UND Student Body President Matt Bakke and Vice President Grant Hauschild, by the way.
Then there are the views of the people actually charged with running UND -- President Robert Kelley and the State Board of Higher Education -- as well as North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who already has tangled with the NCAA in court. Their verdict is unanimous: The issue has been settled. It's on its way to being resolved. The resolution won't generate full consensus; but neither will it generate eternal strife, which is what those responsible for UND see when they look down the "nickname forever" road.
The UND nickname is a deeply polarizing issue. That means there are no good options at this point -- options that will satisfy everyone. There are only "least bad" options, options that gradually turn down the destructive heat in hopes of eventually turning it off. UND's student, faculty, administrative and community leaders have made it clear which option they prefer.