Richard Olson, Grand Forks, column: Yes on 4, no on 2 to protect N.D. way of life
By Richard Olson GRAND FORKS -- The June primary leaves North Dakotans with two issues to consider -- UND's Fighting Sioux nickname, and property taxes. I will vote "yes" on retiring the Sioux nickname and "no" on the property tax measure. If we ...
By Richard Olson
GRAND FORKS -- The June primary leaves North Dakotans with two issues to consider -- UND's Fighting Sioux nickname, and property taxes.
I will vote "yes" on retiring the Sioux nickname and "no" on the property tax measure.
If we North Dakotans want to keep UND as a premier and nationally known university, the vote to retire the Fighting Sioux name is a mandatory "yes."
As a lawyer, UND graduate and part-time faculty member, I shudder to think of the devastating blow to UND that will be dealt by keeping the Sioux name and logo.
Athletics is the face of our university. Our fans are passionate in their fervor supporting Sioux sports teams. Only a "yes" vote to retire the Sioux name will insure the future success of UND.
As a lifelong resident of North Dakota, I have been proud of UND. It is a great asset, one that should not have been jeopardized by the political antics of elected officials, who a year ago passed the law that mandates the use of the nickname.
Our neighboring states' universities have refused to play our teams and will continue to do so as long as the Fighting Sioux name is retained. Nickname supporters can hate the NCAA for its actions, but it is the only game in town, and UND either complies -- or else.
Leaving the organization would relegate the university to playing a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics schedule. UND would become less and less relevant on the national scene; donors would spend their money elsewhere.
And UND would stop being the first or second choice for students seeking a great post-high school education.
I have been a Fighting Sioux supporter for 40 years, but it is time to retire the name and save UND for alumni, future students and student athletes.
Likewise, our governor and legislative leaders tried to influence the NCAA but were totally unsuccessful. Now, it's time for state leaders and lawmakers to acknowledge their fiduciary responsibility to maintain one of the greatest assets of North Dakota -- and that means urging North Dakotans to vote "yes" on the measure to retire the Fighting Sioux name.
Second is the need to vote "no" on Measure 2. I have represented cities, park districts and school districts, all of which rely heavily upon property taxes for revenue to provide services and recreation for residents and to educate our children. This locally controlled revenue stream has worked to provide our North Dakota residents with a way of life that is rapidly becoming envied by the rest of the United States.
We all need and appreciate the locally controlled and funded services that we enjoy, and we need to take part in paying for those services.
Well-meaning people have petitioned to put both of these matters to a vote of North Dakotans. If the Sioux nickname is retained as a result, UND will be severely if not permanently crippled as it tries to cope with the many ramifications of defying the NCAA.
And if property taxes are eliminated via Measure 2, all municipal, park district, county and school services will suffer a setback that threatens to paralyze them.
North Dakota voters need to be aware of the devastating effect these proposals could have on our higher education and way of life.
Please join me in voting "yes" on Measure 4 to retire the nickname and save UND, and "no" on Measure 2 to protect the municipal services and education we now enjoy.
A Grand Forks attorney, Olson is a graduate of both North Dakota State University and the UND School of Law.