UND nickname reveal a lackluster announcement

Well, it is decided.

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net
It was announced on Nov. 18 that the University of North Dakota would be adopting Fighting Hawks as its new nickname, beating out Roughriders in the final vote.

During a press conference on campus at the university’s television center, Athletic Director Brian Faison said that referring to teams as the Fighting Hawks would be implemented immediately.

It was an unsatisfying end in what amounted to a three-year process, beginning with the retirement of Fighting Sioux in 2012.

I wish I felt some sort of relief, or some moment of enlightenment, like the name just fits. I wish I could get excited, and get anxious about purchasing a piece of Fighting Hawks regalia.

But I feel none of that.

The announcement came from University President Robert Kelley after a video montage about the voting process, mainly highlighting the work of the committees. The video played like a propaganda film, meant to show the UND community that the committees were in fact worth the $200,000 spent over the course of a year. I will admit, I even got the chills as deep tones and ominous music played while UND athletic highlight reels streamed across the screen in between shots of committee desk work. But then it ended just as the announcer was saying, “the new UND nickname is,” and the camera cut to President Kelley, and he made the announcement:

“And it gives me a great deal of pleasure to announce to you today that the new nickname for UND’s athletic programs will be, the Fighting Hawks.”

A few claps could be heard in the background, but nothing close to an astounding cheer.

Initially I was satisfied with the process, but I think I was blinded by the all-powerful vote the committee gave me.

It just feels like such a blah ending to a lengthy and expensive process. Did it really take all that time and money to come up with Fighting Hawks? And more to the point, did it really take all that time and money to end up with a generic bird name option, and another option that carries same name as a neighboring high school for the final two choices?

I guess so.

A few things surprised me along the way.

For one, with such an uproar over President Kelley omitting North Dakota as one of the options, it was surprising that Nodaks didn’t win out. That was my vote, Nodaks, and to those hoping to stay North Dakota it was the closest one of the five options.

The lack of voter participation also surprised me. Vice President for University and Public Affairs Susan Walton said during the press conference that 27,378 votes were cast during that final vote between Fighting Hawks and Roughriders. That seems astonishing to me considering the numbers at the beginning of the voting process were in the lower 80,000s.

In the end the choice has been made.

My wife—also a UND alumnus—once commented to me that it hadn’t been enough time between retiring Fighting Sioux and adoption a new moniker.

Maybe she was right.

Because it seemed like the retirement debate went right into the nickname choice debate, seamlessly.

Maybe instead of a ‘ripping-the-Band-Aid-off’ approach, the administration should have gone with ‘rocking-the-coke-machine-until-it-tips-over’ approach.

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