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Earl Strinden, Grand Forks, Published June 02 2012

For the future of the university, vote ‘yes’ to retire UND nickname

I have admiration and great respect for the members for the Committee of Understanding and Respect and the Spirit Lake citizens who voted their support for the Fighting Sioux name and logo and for those at Standing Rock who worked to give their members a voice.

The long debate and controversy on this issue has evolved to a situation where I believe it is in North Dakota’s best interest for there to be a yes vote on Measure Four supporting the legislature’s action returning control of this issue to the UND.

The fallout of the NCAA sanctions is contagious as other universities such as Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa are boycotting UND athletic teams for athletic competition. A few weeks ago the UND track team was disallowed from a prestigious track meet in Iowa. My low regard for this individual university action is irrelevant. We must deal with reality. We carried this fight as far as we could without doing damage to UND, North Dakota and the Sioux citizens.

The initial legislative action gave the Governor and the state delegation a strong expression of North Dakota citizen opinion in their meeting with the NCAA officials. The NCAA however was unwilling to change the court approved agreement to allow UND to continue being the Fighting Sioux and without sanctions.

I strongly believe it is now important to protect North Dakota and UND from being harmed by the NCAA sanctions. This issue has now gone beyond the NCAA. The continuing controversy has caused divisions among citizens, alumni, and students which is harmful to our state and UND.

I know the leaders on this issue at Spirit Lake and Standing Rock. I proudly claim them as friends and I am confident as they rightfully fight for recognition of their people they do not want to cause harm to the University of North Dakota.

I am respectfully suggesting for our future, a yes vote on Measure 4.

Strinden, Grand Forks, is former N.D. House majority leader and retired CEO of the UND Alumni Association.