After attending Sunday’s Student Senate meeting, I got an e-mail from UND Student Government public relations with the text of a resolution senators will discuss at their meeting Dec. 6.
It was going to say the senate supports the nickname, but the authors thought better of that stance and decided to just stay neutral, which is kind of funny because one of the "whereas" clauses says "it is time for this Student Body to make the stance." In this case, a stance to not take a stance. The resolution even told the buttinskies in the university senate to butt out. So it’s like Switzerland’s position only not as heavily armed.
Here’s the text of the resolution:
Whereas, the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo has been an integral part of the University of North Dakota for the last 79 years, and
Whereas, the controversy surrounding the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo has been an ongoing part of the University of North Dakota as well, spanning the past 39 years, and
Whereas, the community is divided on the subject of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo where some view it as derogatory, slanderous, and otherwise unacceptable for a NCAA nickname, and the other side view it as a mark of strength, honor, courage, and the bringing of respect toward the Native American culture, and
Whereas, the University Senate passed a resolution that moved to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, and
Whereas, this issue has created a serious division amongst the University of North Dakota Students, Faculty and Staff, and
Whereas, the University of North Dakota Student Government was addressed by members of the Standing Rock Tribe and the Spirit Lake Tribe on the issue, and
Whereas, we are looking at a larger issue as a whole, where this is not a fight for or against the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, this is a fight against injustice, and it is time for this Student Body to make the stance,
Therefore, be it resolved that the University of North Dakota Student Government give their Full Support to the Standing Rock Tribe and the Spirit Lake Tribe because this is not a decision to be made by the students, faculty or staff but by the tribes themselves, and
Therefore be it further resolved, that the University of North Dakota Student Government continue to encourage the support of all Native Americans, of every Tribe no matter what the outcome may be, and that we continue to encourage and enable every advancement made, and
Therefore be it further resolved that the University of North Dakota Student Government commit to fight against any injustice that creates a hindrance, while finding ways to create a more racially diverse friendly atmosphere and
Therefore be it further resolved that the University of North Dakota Student Government call upon the State Board of Higher Education to allow until November 30, 2010, the time allotted by the original settlement, for full Tribal consideration of all views of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo in order to make an informed decision, and
Therefore, be it furthest resolved that the University of North Dakota Student Government continue to remain neutral on the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, and to recommend the University Senate do the same.
The prelude to this resolution was a meeting Nov. 15 where some nickname supporters, including an elder from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, asked the senate for its support. I understand nickname opponents were there, too, but evidently another round of presentations was needed this weekend.
The senate spent more than an hour listening to presentations, which I can actually summarize for you right now in two sentences:
- Nickname opponents: The nickname contributes to a racist atmosphere on campus, so racist that some Indian students have been afraid to show up for their own graduation ceremony and some have been killed.
- Nickname supporters: The nickname is an opportunity to build awareness of Sioux culture and the people that oppose it are a bunch of radicals straight out of the early 1970s.
The person supposedly killed by racism were Dorothy Lentz and her daughter Pamela. They were strangled to death in 1987 in Dorothy Lentz’s apartment off Gateway Drive on the other side of the freeway. There had never been any suspicion that race was involved in this unsolved crime as far as I know; police initially suspected Pamela Lentz’s boyfriend. So this is kind of an interesting rhetorical tactic if you think about it.
I heard another interesting accusation from a rather irritated nickname supporter who, without any introduction, wanted to know why I wasn’t investigating where the nickname opponents were getting their funding.
Me: What? What funding?
Her: Oh, really, you don’t know. You just don’t want to write about it!
Me: No, seriously, what funding?
Her: Why, all these faculty members using state e-mail to organize against the nickname!
Me: Uh… yeah.
She gave me a pretty dirty look before leaving. Charming. Weirdly enough, I also got accosted by another nickname supporter that night about a story I wrote seven months ago, which only goes to show you that you can’t please everyone, but you can definitely piss everyone off.
Tune in Dec. 6 for more debates, possibly interesting debates, on the nickname.