The University of North Dakota unveiled its new logo yesterday and I’m not going to lie: I’m not a fan. To put it simply, I think it’s a little ugly and uninspiring. Just my humble opinion. Others on social media agree calling it “sterile,” “bland” and “not very creative”. One person said it looks like the logos for Burlington Northern and the U.S. Postal Service had a baby.
But others completely disagree calling it “forward looking,” “strong,” “clean” and “creative”. Whatever your thoughts, the new logo is creating buzz. It was a trending topic on Facebook for hours – a place normally reserved for Donald Trump, a Kardashian or Donald Trump.
The new logo looks to be the final chapter in the very long nickname saga. As a UND graduate, I’ve grown weary of the whole debate and while I welcome the end of the controversy, I wish it had ended on a better note (like picking a logo that doesn’t make me feel like a baby eating green beans for the first time.)
Hating the New Name and Logo Won’t Bring Back the Old Ones.
I liked the Fighting Sioux name and all of the tradition surrounding it. Even as an undergraduate at UND in the 1980s, I remember the university drilling into our heads the importance of using the nickname in appropriate ways. We were told not to use derogatory caricatures or imagery on homecoming floats and in other activities. I think our student body responded well. I don’t recall ever seeing the Sioux name used in an inappropriate way.
But times changed. After a decade of debate and the potential of losing millions of dollars from the NCAA, UND had no choice but to surrender the name. You might not find it offensive. But many people do. It had to go. (What makes me angry about it is schools like Florida State get to keep their name. And don’t get me started on the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins. Their logos are far more offensive than UND’s, and they don’t have to change a thing.)
But again, it is what it is. Complaining won’t bring the Sioux name back. It’s time to stop beating that dead horse. UND fans absolutely can and will still wear Sioux jerseys to games, but as an official moniker, it’s gone.
We Went to a School, Not a Team Name.
My diploma says I graduated from the University of North Dakota, not “Fighting Sioux U.” I went to football games, hockey games and basketball games. I stood up and cheered for North Dakota, just like the school song says. I have great memories of those games.
But the fact is, my memories of UND are about a lot more than that. I built some of my deepest friendships there. I still get together with my Alpha Phi sorority sisters every year. Thirty years have passed since we graduated, but as soon as we see each other it’s 1986 all over again (our hair and Aqua Net bills are just a little smaller now). The times we had a UND were unforgettable – hanging out at Whitey’s and The Antique, playing in the Greek Games or trying to grab the best seat in the Smith cafeteria to scope out the cute boys.
And yes, I did go to class, too. The education I got at UND was top notch and helped me get a great internship in television news and prepared me for my career in journalism. The school did that, not the team name.
In the Grand Scheme of Things, This is Not That Big a Deal.
I don’t want to minimize the grief some of my good friends are feeling over the loss of the Sioux name and the birth of this new one. For avid UND fans, this is a loss and there’s grieving involved.
UND sought input on a new nickname last fall, by asking alumni to choose between three nicknames: Nodaks, Fighting Hawks, or Roughriders. I voted Roughriders. Even though it’s the name of a local high school team, I liked that it related to North Dakota history.
I was disappointed my choice didn’t win. I found Fighting Hawk to be a little generic and didn’t convey anything about North Dakota tradition or history. Every time you turn to any ESPN channel, there’s a good chance some kind of “hawk” is playing – Seahawks, Jayhawks, Hawkeyes. Uff-da.
But I decided to wait and see what they’d do with a new logo. I was really hoping I’d love it so much I’d want to run out and buy new sweatshirts or t-shirts right away. Well…not so much.
But let’s put it all into perspective. We just experienced the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. We’re fighting ISIS and Zika and just a few weeks ago we lost Prince to opioid overdose. I’m not sure getting a logo we don’t like is in the same ballpark.
As one of my friends pointed out, UND was in a no-win situation here. No matter what they picked most of us weren’t going to be turning cartwheels over it. The new name and logo have no history. There’s no story behind it, no memories intertwined with it. But this is the name and logo UND students from here on out will know. I’m willing to give it a little time to grow on me and get a few last-minute goals, game-winning shots and playoff victories under its belt. Then I might just consider buying that sweatshirt.