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UND Senate calls for retirement of school nickname

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The University of North Dakota Senate on Thursday called on the North Dakota Board of Higher Education to retire the Fighting Sioux nickname at the next board meeting Nov. 19.

An official tally of how many votes the resolution got was not available from the registrar's office Friday. The employee tracking the votes wasn't available until Monday, according to the university.

Sen. Curt Stofferahn, a sociology professor, introduced the resolution.

Biology Professor Bill Sheridan, who's not on the senate, said he asked Stofferahn to introduce the resolution for him. The Senate did a voice vote, he said, so it'd be hard to tell the exact number of votes for each side, but he felt the "yeas" were near unanimous.

The resolution reminded the board that it had agreed to a deadline of Oct. 31 to hear from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman whether he would agree to a referendum on the nickname. If he did ask for an extension, the board could extend the deadline to Nov. 30.

Chairman Charles Murphy has replied in a letter to the board that he's willing to discuss the matter, but not under a deadline.

The Senate agreed that that wasn't enough for the board to extend the deadline.

The settlement between UND and the NCAA, which considers American Indian nicknames offensive, require that both Sioux tribes in the state agree to the use of the nickname at the university. The Spirit Lake tribe has agreed to the use.

Sheridan said he and other concerned faculty, staff and administrators, he said, are concerned about the divisiveness of the nickname issue and that it's diverted the campus from its educational mission and impacted Indian students negatively.

The Grand Forks Herald and the Bemidji Pioneer are owned by Forum Communications Co.