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Ross Nelson, Casselton, N.D., Published May 26 2012

Nelson: ND must not abandon principles

If you think of the University of North Dakota as a sports center with academic programs attached to it like warts to a nose, then you surely favor groveling at the NCAA’s feet. There are fame and money, glory and recognition to be gained for UND and all of North Dakota, according to this view, by abasing ourselves and selling out our honor.

Never mind that the NCAA doesn’t practice what it preaches. It freely locates itself in a city and state whose names it won’t allow any member school to have. The best part is, it doesn’t have to justify its smelly little hypocrisy. Many North Dakotans do that for the NCAA instead. Thus we can tell UND students that by betraying their principles for money and power, they’ll be fit to fill the shoes of their elders in North Dakota’s hierarchy.

On the other hand, if you think of UND as a university and place of learning first, with sports programs on the side, you might not be willing to betray your history, independence, and the trust the Sioux placed in you to satisfy a two-faced sports organization that lacks the wit to even defend its position.

Undeniably, at least in the short run, UND athletics might be hurt in prestige. Not necessarily in the long run, however. And it might gain something else from a principled stand against a wanton authority in its own conscience, if nothing else. This view might seem quaint, but only

from the perspective that we must sell our souls to be rich and powerful.

The vast majority of North Dakota’s Sioux who’ve had the chance to speak up favor UND keeping the logo and nickname. And here’s something I’ll bet you haven’t heard any local news medium remark: It’s the Sioux who spearheaded and did the work behind the referendum to overturn the UND logo ban, not just any old “supporters.” Even John Strand of the alternative paper High Plains Reader, where the poisonous miasma of political correctness is so thick an acetylene torch couldn’t cut it, calls the pro-logo folks “The North Dakota Imbeciles,” while carefully omitting the Sioux who are doing the fighting for the logo.

The Sioux involvement in keeping their logo and nickname at UND also belies the patronizing assertion that those are “offensive” to them, unless somehow liberal whites know better than the Sioux what’s good for them.

And haven’t we been pushed around enough by the powers that be? The feds tell us what our speed and blood-alcohol limits can be; they create the highly unpopular No Child Left Behind rules for our schools (so much for local control, right, Measure 2 opponents?); big ethanol shoves its worthless fuel down our throats, etc. Let’s stand up for once.

Nelson lives in rural Casselton and writes a column for The Forum.

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