Students File Lawsuit Over North Dakota School’s Nickname - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

Students File Lawsuit Over North Dakota School’s Nickname

Email




by Dave Kolpack, The Associated Press

Fargo, N.D. – Six American Indian students at the University of North Dakota filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday asking to eliminate the school’s Fighting Sioux nickname, one day before state officials are scheduled to meet with NCAA officials about the moniker.

The complaint alleges that a new law requiring the school to keep the nickname violates the state constitution and reverses a court-ordered settlement between UND and the NCAA that retired the logo. The students want a court order directing the state Board of Higher education and UND to drop it for good.

“We want the legislation stricken,” said Carla Fredericks, a New York attorney and enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota.

Some state leaders and UND President Robert Kelley are scheduled to meet with NCAA executives on Friday in Indianapolis. Republican House Majority Leader Al Carlson, of Fargo, questioned the timing of the lawsuit and said it represents a handful of people with out-of-state interests.

“You’ve got a New York attorney. It was nice of them to keep it local,” Carlson said. “We understand why it was done. It’s a small group. My job is to represent the majority of North Dakotans.”

“I think there has been a lot of discussion already and tomorrow we are going to make the case why we think the Fighting Sioux nickname should be retained,” Carlson said of Friday’s meeting.

Fredericks said the timing of the lawsuit is related to the fact that the settlement agreement dictated that the nickname be officially retired on Monday, and not because of the meeting with NCAA officials.

Related:  Jump in U.S. College Enrollment Highest in 40 Years

“The meeting that is happening on Friday is because of the Monday deadline,” she said.

The suit names Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, the state of North Dakota, the higher education board and UND. State officials said they had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

The Legislature earlier this year passed a bill requiring UND to keep the nickname and logo even though the school had begun efforts to retire it. The NCAA said UND will face sanctions if it remains. The school will be barred from hosting NCAA postseason games and its teams will not be able to wear the nickname and logo on its uniforms in postseason contests.

The Big Sky Conference, which UND hopes to join next year, wants the issue resolved and said it could create problems with the school’s conference membership.

The students bringing the lawsuit are Amber Annis, Lisa Casarez, William Crawford, Sierra Davis, Robert Rainbow, Margaret Scott, Franklin Sage and Janie Schroeder. In addition to their complaints about the state law and settlement agreement, the suit alleges that the nickname has had “a profoundly negative impact” on their self-image and psychological health and has deprived them “of an equal educational experience and environment.”

The debate over the Fighting Sioux nickname has lasted for decades. The present controversy began in 2006 when the NCAA placed UND on a list of schools with American Indian nicknames deemed “hostile and abusive.” UND sued the NCAA, and the settlement agreement called for the school to retire the nickname on Aug. 15, 2011, if it did not get approval from the state’s two namesake tribes.

Related:  Lessons from the Lack of White Cornerbacks in the NFL

Spirit Lake Sioux tribal members endorsed the nickname and logo in a referendum, and the tribe’s governing council followed. The Standing Rock Sioux’s tribal council, which has long opposed the nickname, has declined to change its stand.

David Gipp, president of United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck and a UND alumnus, calls the lawsuit long overdue.

I believe that state officials have failed to live up to their responsibilities,” Gipp said. “By consistently minimizing and avoiding the realities of this case and ignoring those who describe the damage it creates in the higher education setting, they are continuing to cause great harm.”

RELATED ARTICLES >>
UNC Responds to 3rd Set of NCAA Charges in Academic Case RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina has responded to the third set of charges it received from the NCAA in the long-running academic fraud case. The 102-page document released Thursday marked the latest step in the seven-year investigation. UNC faces f...
Lawsuit Alleges Professor Failed Student for Being Muslim CRANFORD, N.J. — A student is suing a New Jersey college, claiming her professor gave her an F in a course because she is Muslim. Sahna ElBanna alleged in the lawsuit that she endured a spring 2016 semester of Union County College professor Toby Gro...
LGBTQ Group at Fordham Says No to Chick-fil-A Fordham University—one of America’s oldest Jesuit institutions—has rejected a proposal to build a Chick-fil-A in the school’s Ram Café located on its sprawling New York campus. The decision came amid widespread protests by LGBTQ+ individuals and the ...
Some Notre Dame Students Plan to Walk Out During Pence Speech SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A University of Notre Dame student says he and some others plan to protest Vice President Mike Pence’s Sunday commencement address at the school by walking out on the speech. Protest organizer Bryan Ricketts tells the South Bend...
Semantic Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *