Friday, May 15, 2009

Hurry up the white flag 

The University of North Dakota has announced that, unless the two Sioux tribes of the state agree before October 1 to the use of their tribal name for a period of at least thirty years, the university will end its use of the Fighting Sioux mascot.
Today, Thursday, May 14, the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education passed the following unanimous motion:

"Consistent with the terms and conditions of the October 26, 2007 Settlement Agreement entered into with the NCAA, the Board directs UND officials to retire the 'Sioux' nickname and logo, effective October 1, 2009. Full retirement of the nickname and logo shall be completed no later than August 1, 2010. In the event a new nickname and logo is adopted by UND, they shall not violate the NCAA policy regarding Native American nicknames, mascots and imagery.

UND is further directed to undertake actions consistent with the Settlement Agreement to protect its intellectual property rights in the 'Fighting Sioux' nickname and mark. UND is further directed to address the imagery at Ralph Engelstad Arena and other venues pursuant to the terms, conditions and timelines set forth in the Settlement Agreement. ...

UND President Robert Kelley seems resigned to the fate of the nickname. On Say Anything, the timing of this event is questioned, since one band of Sioux had already agreed to the nickname. The other one has a tribal council blocking a referendum on the issue. "The Whistler" at Say Anything wonders:
According to the timeline set up by the Board of Higher Education the committee was supposed to work on this issue for the rest of the year. When the Attorney General negotiated the terrible settlement with the NCAA he said that he and the governor would meet with the tribes to settle this matter. Of course they never did. Specifically John Hoeven isn�t going to address a controversial subject if he can possibly duck it.

This committee headed by Grant Shaft was formed last year and met one time. According to their schedule they were to meet four times.

They only met once. Grant Shaft says that the Summit league membership was on the line. The Summit league said that wasn�t the case. So why did they have to decide now.

The settlement with the NCAA was set up so that the Fighting Sioux name would just go away without the local self-appointed elites being blamed.

But then something happened. A local group on the Spirit Lake Tribe decided they didn�t agree with the elites. They like the name. They brought it to a vote on the reservation and it passed overwhelmingly.

That left getting a vote of the members of the other Sioux Tribe in the state.

That�s why there was a hurry. The Board of Higher Education was afraid that members of the Standing Rock Tribe would force a vote and approve of the nickname. And then where would those self-appointed elites be?
On the SCSU campus a promotional weekly of "SCSU in the News" announced this as a victory ... for SCSU:
For 16 years a number of St. Cloud State students, faculty, staff and administrators pushed the University of North Dakota to cease using its �Sioux� nickname and logo, arguing they are racially hostile and abusive. The end game in that long battle may be near. On May 14, the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education ordered UND to retire the 'Sioux' nickname and logo, effective Oct. 1, 2009. ...

St. Cloud State involvement in the controversy includes a campus ban on using the logo and nickname in university-produced publications, an NCAA resolution, protests at athletic contests involving UND teams and classroom curricula. Among our leaders on this issue were former presidents Robert O. Bess and Roy Saigo, Athletics Director Morris Kurtz and Sudie Hofmann, professor of human relations and multicultural education.
Let's summarize, then: A group of elitists at the NCAA, at one time headed by President Saigo, lobbies to force a competing athletic program to abandon a long-used mascot. The mascot uses the name of a Native American tribe, one band of which approves of the mascot, the other of which is blocked from voting in a referendum on the mascot. The elitists then take the blocked vote as a sign that they have done the right thing and compel a university to end its long tradition. President of that university is left to make apologies and ask for kindness from those whose wishes were trumped by the elites. (I have no idea of Pres. Kelley agrees with the Board's decision; at any rate he's made the best of a raw deal.)

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

I know where President Saigo is 

He's off pursuing facial hair justice. A TV station in Denver is reporting another mascot controversy. This must be some really nasty mascot.Hmmm. Are the Fighting Whities back, I wondered? No, that's not it at all.
Boone the Pioneer, the longtime face of the University of Denver, will stay in retirement after the school's chancellor called the cartoon "divisive" and said it doesn't reflect diversity.

The cartoon image of a grinning pioneer with his coonskin cap was the official mascot of the university from 1968 until 1998, when he was replaced by Ruckus, a red-tailed hawk.

Alumni and students urged Chancellor Robert Coombe to return the retired mascot to official or semi-official status.

Coombe sent an email to the university community on Monday rejecting that idea.

The e-mail read, in part, that DU "cannot adopt an official mascot that has a divisive rather than unifying influence on our community."

Coombe wrote that the cartoon pioneer "does not reflect the broad diversity of the DU community and is not an image that many of today's women, persons of color, international students and faculty, and others can easily relate to as defining the pioneering spirit."
Now I'm more confused. Discovering places, that's a white guy thing? This will be news to Laura Wilder or any of the black pioneers of the Pacific Northwest. But this gets even weirder in the story:
[University spokesman] Berscheidt said the university would allow students and alumni to use the trademarked image of Boone because DU is done with it.

"People can walk around with Boone everywhere if they want, it's just not the official logo or mascot and no money will be used to promote it," Berscheidt said. "Students and alumni are welcome to use Boone any way they wish."
I suspect this has more to do with the current mascot being plastered on lots of shirts and memorabilia for sale; printing a new mascot would cost its marketing agents money. I'm not sure what is more fearsome or powerful about Ruckus the Red Hawk over Boone the Pioneer, but if you're going to keep the hawk why not call yourself the Hawks? I don't think any other team in WCHA has it.

h/t: Misantrhopic Frat Boy, who has other name suggestions.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It's still wrong, even if I laugh 

You have to hand it to the University of North Dakota. They are determined to win this mascot lawsuit with the NCAA, and they aren't too worried about the public relations.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed (permalink for subscribers, temp link)

In a memorandum sent on September 24 to five top administrators at the university, Sally J. Page, the affirmative-action officer, said that academic departments and university programs that publicly stated their opposition to the nickname in a recent advertisement in a local newspaper may also have put the university at risk of a federal civil-rights lawsuit.

"Should any individual or group file a complaint that he/she was denied an opportunity to participate or fully enjoy the services provided because the individual did not agree with the program's position opposing the logo or the Sioux name, then the university easily could be in a position of trying to defend itself from a discrimination or a hostile-environment claim based on race," Ms. Page wrote in the memo, which was provided to The Chronicle by a faculty member who opposes the nickname.

"The listing of the department or program in a newspaper ad sends an inappropriate message to students and others who may wish to participate in the educational opportunity or services and who may feel uncomfortable doing so because of the public position," the memo continued.

The provocation was an ad aganst the logo signed by four academic departments and a number of other programs on the UND campus. The signers are unhappy but complying with the affirmative action office. The opponents of the nickname point out that the same memo could have been put out to any supporter of the nickname. That's true, except nobody has taken out such an ad that I can find, and it is after all the university's official position -- so the campus itself could be called an "hostile environment". John Rosenberg wonders,
Surely there are many students there, and at other institutions, who are made to feel uncomfortable and even �unwelcome� because of their support for colorblind, non-discriminatory equal treatment.
I still don't like the use of the law in this way, but Rosenberg is right to call this a "man bites dog" story.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Mother may I 

There was an attempt in Illinois to keep Chief Illiniwek as the mascot of the University of Illinois, but a judge threw out the case yesterday. Two students and an attorney separately sued the school's trustees arguing they did not have the right to sue.
The 12-count suit by Maloney and Ponce alleged that the trustees violated a 1996 statute enacted by the General Assembly that said Chief Illiniwek "is and may remain the honored symbol" of the UI.

"Had the Legislature intended to remove from the trustees the authority to do anything with the symbol, they could have said so," Jones said, underscoring the use of the word 'may' in the act.

He also agreed with the arguments made by Jim Kearns, the Urbana attorney representing the UI, that the students' rights to free speech, expression and academic freedom had not been violated by either the UI or the NCAA in the retirement of the Chief.

Jones noted that the NCAA has not told Maloney and Ponce individually that they may not portray the Chief but it has made clear to the UI the consequences it faces if it continues to hold the Chief out as its symbol.

"The UI has the right to choose what image it chooses to project," Jones said.
The students had portrayed the mascot, and the judge argued they could still do so, just not as officially part of the UI game.

Meanwhile, the suit for the University of North Dakota mascot has cost the plaintiffs $430,000, all paid for by private donations. That case will go to trial in December.

(h/t: Chronicle of Higher Ed news blog.)

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Non monkey non sequitur 

Dear Nick,

{cue the music}

It appears you are confused again.

After tonight, the University of Illinois will still be the Fighting Illini, and the University of North Dakota will still be the Fighting Sioux.

After tonight, Illinois will not have an Indian mascot; neither will UND, as it's not had one for thirty years.

Of course, such fine distinctions make no difference to you, do they?

Or to put it another way -- if UND were to change its nickname to the Fighting Dakotas, would you still love calling Ralph Englestad a Nazi memorabilia collector?

I thought so.

A member of the right-wing daisy chain

P.S. At least you're more entertaining than this dreadful crep.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Illinois bows to its NCAA master 

One of the last holdouts against NCAA aggression has raised its own white flag. Wednesday will be the last appearance of Chief Illiniwek.
The decision follows two decades of votes, studies and committee meetings aimed at easing campus division over the mascot, which some American Indians and others view as an insult and some alumni and students see as a cherished tradition.

The NCAA ended up forcing the university's hand.

Friday's decision ends NCAA sanctions that had prevented Illinois from hosting postseason sports since 2005.

Illinois still will be able to use the name Illini because it's short for Illinois and the school can use the term Fighting Illini, because it's a reference to the team's competitive spirit, school officials said.
The University of North Dakota will fight on.
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says the decision by the University of Illinois to retire its American Indian mascot Chief Illiniwek will not affect the University of North Dakota's legal case against the NCAA.

UND is trying to retain postseason use of its "Fighting Sioux" nickname and logo, which the NCAA has deemed offensive.

"UND doesn't have a mascot like Illinois has," Stenehjem said. "[Illinois'] decision not to use this chief is a decision UND made a long time ago in deciding not to have any mascot. So they're putting themselves in the same position we're in now."

So if they changed their name to "Fighting (North) Dakotans"...

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