Former Bismarck Mayor Sends Letter To UND President Demanding "North Dakota" Be Added To Nickname Vote


The voting requirements and dates are set for the selection of a new nickname for the University of North Dakota, but a former mayor of Bismarck is saying UND President Robert Kelley still has time to make “North Dakota” an option.

Kelley previously removed the “North Dakota” option, despite multiple polls showing it to be┬áthe most popular choice among students and the public, arguing that it isn’t a nickname.

Marlan Haakenson made headlines when he registered four of the potential nicknames being voted on with the North Dakota Secretary of State in what he has said was a move to deny UND the use of them. In a handwritten letter dated September 28, Haakenson says he’s sticking with his position.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”I will not sell the rights to use my trademarks,” Haakenson writes. “I will not let anyone use them.”[/mks_pullquote]

“I will not sell the rights to use my trademarks,” Haakenson writes. “I will not let anyone use them.”

He goes on to demand that Kelley put “North Dakota” on the ballot for those voting.

“You have time to add ‘North Dakota’ to your ballot, as an overwhelming percentage of your qualified voters have asked you to do. That’s the right thing to do,” Haakenson writes.

“You give the appearance of a rigged ballot and vote,” Haakenson continues. “Maybe you don’t care about your legacy as you flee from North Dakota.”

Kelley announced earlier this year, after a contentious run-in with the UND student government over tuition hikes and a scathing review from faculty, that he’ll be resigning in January.

Frankly, I think Haakenson’s gambit seems a little silly. He has flat-out admitted that his filings were malicious in nature, and he has no use for the names himself beyond his intent to throw a monkey wrench into UND’s nickname process.

As much as I think Kelley has been a poor and dishonest leader on this issue, and though I disagree with the decision to take “North Dakota” off slate of choices for a new nickname, I think Haakenson is doing more harm than good to his own cause. This nonsense only serves to make Kelley, who is not deserving of anyone’s sympathy, look downright sympathetic.