Campus Committee on Human Rights report on Name Change Commission member selection

Dear President Kupchella,

Concerned UND faculty and staff recently formed a committee to actively address the discriminatory practices generated by the university's "Fighting Sioux" name and symbol. These concerns include the stereotypical and historically inaccurate image of Native people, the hostile learning environment on this campus which is a direct result of the name and symbol, and the incompatibility of such a name and symbol with a university whose philosophy espouses inclusivity and diversity.

The Campus Committee on Human Rights includes people from many disciplines and departments on campus. We continue to believe the formation of a commission to study the "Fighting Sioux" name is a tactic which not only disregards the hazardous and uncertain campus climate generated by this human rights' issue, but disfavors the very people who are most affected by it. However, because this particular course of action has been chosen, we feel it important to offer you our perspective regarding the commission itself.

Although the commission includes thoughtful people, we were surprised and disappointed to see the lack of representation by those who, through their years of research and campus experience, could more readily provide direction to the missing information. Indian Studies or multi-cultural studies educators could provide important information on this issue from a historical, political, sociological and psychological perspective. Unfortunately resources already available on this campus are not being utilized.

We also recommend the commission be chaired by someone not so closely identified with the interests of the Alumni Association/Foundation and that the chair bring to the commission strong credentials in conflict resolution. There are a number of UND faculty who have had training at the Conflict Resolution Center. The CR Center's director, Jim Antes, in particular is well respected on campus as a fair-minded and even-handed facilitator.

The inclusion of two former North Dakota governors is an indication of the broader scope of this issue. However, including state government leaders while ignoring tribal government leaders (especially those from the" Sioux" nations) signals a troubling lack of respect for the sovereign status of these governments as well as a disregard for those from whom the name has been appropriated.

The Committee also urges, because of the immediate and continued harm inflicted on UND by the current name and symbol, a specific time limitation for the commission's deliberations.

Please consider these suggestions as you determine additional membership on the commission. The Campus Committee for Human Rights offers our assistance to your administration, the Alumni Association/Foundation and the name and symbol committee as a resource in this matter. The CCHR also hopes to attend some of the commission's meetings, which we expect will be advertised and announced well in advance.

Thank you.

For the Campus Committee on Human Rights,

Sandra Donaldson, Professor
English Department & Chair, Women Studies

Lucy Ganje, Assoc. Professor
School of Communication