Yesterday Fargo lawmaker Jim Kasper asked North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott why neither he nor the State Board of Higher Education stepped to overrule University of North Dakota President Robert Kelley when he opted to exclude “North Dakota” as a choice for the school going forward.
Hagerott gave sort of an innocuous answer, but given new developments both he and the board may be wishing they had stepped in.
A UND graduate from the class of 1980 who now works as an attorney in Texas says he plans to take legal action against the University of North Dakota over the institution’s upcoming vote on a new nickname.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”There’s a number of questions as to how the nickname committee arrived at its decision on the five names. There is the huge outcry over the fact that North Dakota is not listed as one of the options for the voters. There’s also an outcry that you can’t even write in any other choice. It all seems to be very much orchestrated.”[/mks_pullquote]
“We are looking to raise money to look at filing a pleading by next friday [October 16],” William Brotherton, who operates the Brotherton Law Office, told me today. “There’s a number of questions as to how the nickname committee arrived at its decision on the five names. There is the huge outcry over the fact that North Dakota is not listed as one of the options for the voters. There’s also an outcry that you can’t even write in any other choice. It all seems to be very much orchestrated.”
Asked how he got involved, Brotherton said people started contacting him after he wrote an op/ed published in the Fargo Forum about the controversy. “I have received a lot of calls and emails from folks because I wrote an op/ed,” he said. “A bunch of folks have been contacting me so I guess I sort of became the lightning rod for all this.”
Brotherton said his goal is to raise $50,000 to pursue the legal action, and that he’s received over $10,000 so far. People interested in donating to the cause can email him at email@example.com.
Asked where the pleading would be filed, Brotherton said he hadn’t decided yet. I also asked him how he would respond when people inevitably argue that he and whoever he’s representing have no standing in how UND picks a new nickname.
“I’ll be representing a group of alumni,” he told me. “If they don’t have a say in this who does?”
“I’ve been following religiously,” Brotherton added. “It just seems like the whole process has been ramrodded. I just can’t believe this is the way we’ve been treated. The sense I got from people is that they were being treated like they are in a dictatorship. I don’t think the majority of folks like the five nicknames.”
I asked him what sort of satisfaction he’s looking for out of a legal action. “Putting North Dakota back on the ballot,” he said. “I think that would be a good step.”
On a related note, UND spokesman Peter Johnson told me yesterday that the school has so far spent $271,222 on the nickname transition process.