May 23, 2014 04:27 PM EDT
Tribal Leaders Demand UND To Take Action On Racism
Tribal leaders are asking school officials at the University of North Dakota to expel students who wore "Siouxper Drunk" t-shirts at an off-campus party, Campus Reform reported.
Several tribal leaders, many of them former students of the University of North Dakota, met with representatives of the institution and the North Dakota University System on Monday at the state capitol in Bismarck about the issues. They also discussed creating an atmosphere of "respect n university campuses throughout the state."
"Expel them. Expel the students. Zero tolerance," Standing Rock Tribe Chairman David Archambault said during the meeting, according to Campus Reform.
The controversial shirts have a picture of the school's old mascot, the Fighting Sioux, drinking out of a beer bong. The shirt also bears the words "Siouxper Drunk." Students wore them earlier this month to Springfest, an event at a public park near campus.
The Fighting Sioux logo was the school's official's mascot of the university until 2012 when North Dakota residents voted to dump the logo over concerns it could be offensive, Campus Reform reported.
"I don't think there's any question in anyone's mind that it's offensive ... offensive and racist," university spokesman Peter Johnson told Campus Reform. "We see it as a highly unfortunate situation, a terrible situation that connects to our needs to provide better education about sensitivity issues."
Leigh Jeanotte, member of the University of North Dakota's American Indian Student Services, told Forum News Service Native American students at the university are considering filing a grievance with the Office of Civil Rights, and possible "informing tribes to not send students to the university."
"Students are at a point where they don't have a lot of options," Jeanotte said.
Archambault added that even if free speech laws protect the actions of the students, university representatives know the right thing to do.
"You feel it in your heart, not in your head, not in your mind," he said. "You guys all feel it, that this is wrong."
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