UPDATE: State Board of Higher Education President Kathy Neset wants Kelley’s decision reviewed.
Per the email below sent out this morning, the University of North Dakota has established the voting process by which a new nickname will be chosen.
But the big news is that the university remaining simply “North Dakota” is absent from the list of choices despite multiple polls showing that to be the most popular choice.
“In deciding the final list of names to include in the final vote, I have reviewed the recommendations of the Nickname Committee, the additional input received from a recent student poll, and input from many other individual students (including student athletes), faculty, staff, alumni and community members who have contacted me,” UND President Robert Kelley is quoted as saying in the email. “I have considered all this input carefully and, in determining the final voting list, have concluded that it is in the best long-term interest of the University not to use ‘North Dakota’ as the University’s official nickname.”
More from Kelley:
As I have noted many times, North Dakota is not a nickname—it is a reflection of our pride in who we are. We have been North Dakota—UND—for more than 130 years, and we always will be. The Nickname Committee has delivered a list of five prospective nicknames with the potential to add value to our already-existing North Dakota identity and evoke the pride and spirit that we all feel for our University and our State. I respect and support the process the Committee used, and the extensive public input they gathered. In making this decision, I also respect their final recommendations.
One of the primary reasons for rancor in this seemingly never-ending controversy is that when the State of North Dakota struck a deal with the NCAA to potentially keep the old “Fighting Sioux” nickname if two North Dakota Sioux tribes approved, the Standing Rock tribe opted to not allow a vote even after the Spirit Lake Sioux voted overwhelmingly for the name.
Supporters of the nickname saw that as unfair, and they were right.
Now Kelley is denying students, faculty, alumni, etc. a chance to choose what has been, to date, seemingly the most popular option for the school’s nickname going forward. No doubt ensuring that this controversy will drag out even longer than before.
Kelley makes much of the effort that has got into creating a fair process, but at the last minute removes from consideration a popular choice among fans and students which he just happens to personally dislike. For what it’s worth, not long ago a survey of UND students found that nearly 70 percent supported keeping “North Dakota” as an option.
That’s not the action of someone who intends to be fair. That’s the action of the sort of self-absorbed autocrat that many have long accused Kelley of being all along.
Here’s the full email: