Lawsuit Filed Against University of North Dakota Over Fighting Sioux Name
The University of North Dakota (UND) is under pressure. A group of 8 Amerindian students have filed a lawsuit in the First District Court in Bismarck against the school in regards to the Fighting Sioux nickname of their athletic teams.
The students filing suit claim that a state law overriding a school policy to change the nickname is a violation of the state Constitution, and of their 14th amendment rights:
"The complaint says the students feel singled out in class and at sporting events due to the nickname and have been subject to ridicule, racism and discriminatory treatment related to it."
Given the dearth of hate crimes committed on campus in the past half decade, the welcoming campus multicultural center, and the various programs that emphasize diversity at UND, I find it unlikely that the climate of hate is as severe as described on campus.
As always our friends over at Campus Progress were keen to jump on the story, of course omitting some key details in the short blurb they provided. When one looks at the whole picture, it's pretty clear that there is more to the story.
A 2005 NCAA policy states that if a school has a Native American nickname, they will not be allowed to host, or use the mascot, during post season tournaments. This rule threatens UND's bid to join the Big Sky Conference in the coming year, which would provide a great financial boost to the school.
Exceptions to the rule can be made though, as long the tribe consents to the use of their name. One example is of the Seminole Tribe allowing Florida State University to retain their mascot. According to the Bismarck Tribune, of the two Sioux tribes in the state, one approved use of the name, while the other did not take a position.
This is not entirely surprising, as polling done by Sports Illustrated on the matter indicates that a clear majority of Amerindians do not see mascot usage as a major issue.
Of equal interest is that only one of the Amerindian students filing the suit are affiliated with the Sioux Tribe, and even that student is not affiliated with either of the tribes in that state.
From names that stem from esteemed ancient warrior cultures like the Augustana College Vikings and Michigan State Spartans, to the patently stereotypical University of Notre Dame Fighting Irishmen, Lebanon Valley College Flying Dutchmen, and University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, cultural mascots area a popular moniker in college sports.
Although I'm not exactly sure what a "Flying Dutchman" is, or how the Spartans have any relation to Michigan, little to no controversy has been made over by Dutch, or Greek, Americans over the use of their heritage as a school mascot.
At the very least, the Fighting Sioux is a respectable representation of a group that actually has a cultural and historical tie to the region where the school is.
Due to the domineering influence of the ideology of political correctness, now North Dakotan's tax dollars and precious court time will be wasted fighting over what amounts to a non issue.
Even worse, it could have a financial repercussion if they are prevented from joining the Big Sky Conference, which ultimately would negatively affect the entire campus.
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