A group of alumni opposing the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname are using North Dakota State Unviersity’s airplane to fly around the state and announce their campaign.
Via their press release, these are the cities they’re hitting today:
9:00 AM Fargo Holiday Inn
11:30 AM Bismarck Ramkota Inn
1:30 PM Minot Grand International Inn
4:00 PM Grand Forks Alerus Center
Given driving times, there is no way they could hit all of these cities at the scheduled times unless they were flying. And sure enough, not only are they flying, but they’re using an airplane registered to North Dakota State University. You can see the plane’s flight plans at this link.
One flight from Fargo to Bismarck has already happened. Below is video of the alumni group landing in Bismarck and exiting the terminal. Flight plans from Bismarck to Minot and Minot to Grand Forks are already filed and scheduled.
A spokesman for the Alumni Association told the Grand Forks Herald that the university system is aware of the campaign but isn’t participating in it. Except for making one of the university system’s private airplanes available for their use.
Perhaps the alumni are paying for it (my guess is that once their use of it exposed to the public they’ll make arrangements to do so quickly if they weren’t already), but that doesn’t remove the stink of collusion. Nor does it appear to make the use legal. Section 16.1 of the North Dakota Century Code reads:
No person may use any property belonging to or leased by, or any service which is provided to or carried on by, either directly or by contract, the state or any agency, department, bureau, board,
commission, or political subdivision thereof, for any political purpose. …
“Political purpose” means any activity undertaken in support of or in opposition to a statewide initiated or referred measure…
The plane is state property, and they’re using it for political purposes.
But even setting aside the legal questions, you really have to admire the optics here. The Fighting Sioux nickname controversy was started when a small number of political activists claimed that it was abusive to Sioux Indians. Now, near the end of the controversy, we have actual Sioux Indians fighting to keep the nickname in the face of a well-funded media campaign orchestrated by a bunch of lily-white alumni and higher education bureaucrats.
The same people who for years pretended to care what the Sioux thought about the issue are now campaigning against the Sioux Indians to retire the nickname for their own good.
It’s a disgusting spectacle.