Monday, March 17, 2008
Hello, I am Chuck Kupcello, President of UND. I've been president of UND since 1999 and plan to retire this year. My successor, Dr. Robert Kelly, will be taking over my position on July 1. I have had a wonderful time watching students of this University grow. However, I can't say that I haven't had my share of trouble and division among the student body.
Even at this particular moment, a controversy is still brewing around the walls of our humble school. The Board and I were shocked by the August 5th 2005 statement released by the National College Athletic Association. It must be understood that we were charged with words such as "abusive" and "hostile." Such harsh words at first ruffled our feathers a bit, however we wanted to approach this statement calmly and peacefully. In all honesty, the Board and I, have decided against looking into the topic of political "correctness" dealing with the Native American images. This isn't because we don't wish to address the topic but rather because we know negotiations wouldn't undergo due to the strong yet stubborn feelings of both groups.
I would also like for the community to know that we have nothing against Native Americans and our logo design was even designed by a well respected American Indian. I would also like to point out that we have purposefully placed cultural architecture that pays respects to the Native Americans.
The NCAA, in their open statement to us, questioned our use of the name 'Fighting Sioux' and whether it was inappropriate. I would like to speak on behalf of the Board and myself, that the name isn't to be "hostile" or "abusive." There are two different Sioux tribes located here in North Dakota. The problem I have been trying to resolve is the unified decision between the two tribes. One tribe doesn't wish of the use of the name 'Sioux' while the other would allow the name under the circumstances that we educate our students about their culture and history in a positive and truthful light.
If there are any questions upon my open letter replying to the NCAA or even anything you wish to know about UND and the controversy please let me know. On behalf of the Board of Education and UND, I'd like to thank you.
Picture taken by Eric Hylden from, "The New York Times"