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"Summit" organized over UND T-shirt incident
May 19, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
Earlier this spring a group of University of North Dakota students wore T-shirts featuring an image similar to the university's retired Fighting Sioux Indian head logo drinking from a beer bong, with the words "Siouxper Drunk." They wore the T-shirts at an event in nearby University Park called Springfest that was not sponsored by the university.
Today, North Dakota University System Chancellor Larry Skogen is hosting a summit in the Sakakawea Room in the state capitol building in Bismarck entitled, "Creating an Atmosphere of Respect." The event was organized in conjunction with Scott J. Davis, Commissioner of North Dakota Indian Affairs, and university system leaders, tribal college leaders, students, and others have been invited.
"The appalling incident last weekend has highlighted that we have a long way to go in creating an atmosphere of respect for all cultures," said Skogen in a press release."This is not just a UND issue; it reflects on the entire university system. It's time to start a conversation about developing appropriate responses to such incidents, and we intend to lead that effort."
Of course, this is the latest in a series of incidents since the logo was retired under pressure from the NCAA. There had been ongoing controversy over UND's mascot for decades before that. I would suspect that, as a result of this summit, incoming college freshmen this fall will be getting some sensitivity training about Native American issues as part of their freshmen orientation. Protesters are also demanding that the students be sanctioned and that there be a complete ban on use of the Sioux name and logo on the university campus.
Here's a question: what, if anything, do you think ought to be done because a group of UND students wore these stupid T-shirts at an off campus event ? Do you agree with Skogen that this is an issue that affects the entire university system? Or do you agree with those who say the students were exercising their First Amendment right to free speech, however offensive that speech might be, and no sanctions are called for?
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