Campus of Respect: Student Leaders React to Racism in Fargodome

Student body President and Vice President Spencer Moir and Anuj Teotia, respectively, signed off on a listserv email sent by North Dakota State President Dean Bresciani’s addressing a racist chant used by students in the Fargodome.

Moir said the discussion of the chant is not something new, but it has been in discussion for a while. The email was what campus leadership thought would be an appropriate response to a column published in The Spectrum which called out the chant, “Sioux suck shit.”

Teotia said he and Moir were working to promote a new chant, “Go big green.”

“It’s just outdated. Its using a team name they don’t even have anymore,” Moir said. He added that some students at this time are engaging in the chant don’t really know the full history of the chant and only say it because fellow students are doing it.

The two said they’ve had Native American students tell them the chant is concerning to them, even making it uncomfortable for these students to go to football games.

“When we have evidence like that, its just not appropriate anymore,” Moir said.

Kyle Knutson, a senior and third-year yell leader, said the chant has been around since he was a freshman, though its age stretches way beyond that time.

He said yell leaders have worked with NDSU administration, students, the athletics department and Fargodome staff to try to shift away from using the chant, especially leading up to the football game against the University of North Dakota last year.

“Our biggest thing is maybe not just necessarily trying to tell people they can’t (say the chant), but instead trying to promote better options that are more encouraging for NDSU,” Knutson said. “At the end of the day, its the students, they have control over what they want to do.”

“I enjoy the fact that students want to keep up tradition, however I wish they did it in a more positive way,” Knutson said, adding, “It’s been tradition for, who even knows how long, but times have changed, and we have to kinda change the way we do things too.”

“It has to stop,” Moir said.

North Dakota State President Dean Bresciani sent a listserv email to all in the NDSU community on Oct. 14, addressing a common racist phrase used by students within the Fargodome.

“We suspect people are continuing this chant out of a misplaced sense of tradition, and we are asking any who do so to re-evaluate their participation,” the email said. “We challenge anyone using hateful, thoughtless language to reflect on that language. We believe that people continuing to use these chants are not understanding that these chants are hurtful; they do not reflect the aspiration of NDSU to be a welcoming community. “

Other signers on Bresciani’s email include the faculty and staff senate presidents, Provost Beth Ingram, Vice President for Student Affairs Tim Alvarez and Canan Bilen-Green, Vice Provost for Faculty and Equity.

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