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UND students plan walk in response to T-shirt controversy

GRAND FORKS — A group of University of North Dakota students say they will hold a walk protesting what they see as an inadequate response by the university to racist T-shirts.

Emmy Scott, former president of the Indian Studies Association, organized the event planned for Friday and said she wants to have the university officially denounce the now-retired Fighting Sioux logo, make racial sensitivity training mandatory for incoming students and ban the Fighting Sioux logo from all academic settings, among other things.

“It seems like no matter what, the university is unable to move on,” Scott said. “It’s everywhere; students continue to wear it, faculty continue to wear it, the staff at Twamley Hall, (UND’s administration building) even continue to wear it, showing it still has full effect.”

The university dropped the Fighting Sioux nickname in 2012. A state law prevents it from adopting a new nickname until 2015.

The controversial T-shirts, which depicted an Indian head drinking from a beer bong and the words “Siouxper drunk,” were worn by several people during Saturday’s Springfest, an annual celebration attended by many students.

UND President Robert Kelley has condemned the T-shirts, but he said Springfest, held near the campus in a Grand Forks city park, is not a university-endorsed event.

The walk will be at 11 a.m. Friday and begin at the American Indian Student Services Building on Princeton Street and end at Twamley Hall.

Posters about the event have begun circulating on campus and many have voiced their support via social media with #WalkForChange on Twitter.

“It’s calling for support for American Indian students at UND, but of course we want everyone to be welcome and we want anybody within the community or outside that wishes to support us to come,” Scott said.

Anna Burleson

Anna Burleson is the higher education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Mass Communication program and is originally from Watertown, S.D. Contact her with story ideas or tips by phone, email or Twitter, all of which are listed below. Examples of her work can be accessed here.

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