1:30-3:00pm / Twamley Hall, Room 404
Attending: Josh Riedy, Kathryn Rand, Sean Johnson, Emily Emerson, Becky Nielson, Peter Johnson (via phone)
Absent: DeAnna Carlson Zink
Recorder: Kim Pastir
Josh Riedy – Welcomed group to the first official committee meeting and noted that Kim will be recording and taking minutes. DeAnna was not able to join the meeting and Peter Johnson is joining by phone. VP Boyd is with us to help get things going, to set things in motion.
VP Boyd thanked everyone for their willingness to serve on this group and stated that this task group is important, because the University, specifically the President and the rest of us have made a huge commitment to having this whole process of the retirement of the nickname and logo process transparent and inclusive. The commitment to transparency and inclusiveness comes down to modeling, and most importantly how we communicate with people and provide opportunities for them to communicate with us. Both are terribly important and that we keep people informed who are interested. One thing we can do is to create a web site, which we have already done, which allows anyone anywhere in the world to link on and find out what’s going on. In addition, meetings were held with student senate, university senate, staff senate, an open forum on campus, the President met w/community people twice to bring them up to date, athletes, coaches, and leadership of the Ralph Engelstad Arena. The real task is to keep this going and find even more and better ways for us to make sure people know they have a right to know and that we want to hear from them. It is this group’s task to decide how it is best done.
A second role, not well defined, is that this topic is controversial. People see this very differently both within the University, as well as externally throughout the community, the reservations, and the state as a whole. How can we begin to heal as we go through the process of retiring the nickname/logo? How do we reconcile people who have differing opinions on this topic and how do we pull them together? To that end we have proposed to the foundation and asked for some money for that piece of it. No final actions have been decided yet, and we will wait until we do before we go any further. If we are carrying out the communication piece well, some reconciliation takes place without lots of other efforts. Things are relatively quiet primarily because people generally have accepted this is going to happen, that there is a process in place playing itself out; and we need to continue to communicate that yes there is a process, and that their viewpoint is important and valued.
Bob reiterated his appreciation of the contributions by all, Kathryn, Josh, Sean, DeAnna, Kim, Peter, Emily and Becky. Everyone thanked Bob for his time and charge to the committee.
1. REVISIT NICKNAME/LOGO WEBSITE WITH FOCUS ON HONORING TRADITIONS TASK GROUP AND DETAILS ON A TRANSITION TIMELINE AND PROCESS – Kathryn noted that our task group is activated as well as the Honoring Traditions Task Group and suggests that the group revisit the web site as homework – and in the meantime to liaison with the Honoring Traditions Task Group co-chairs, Kris Compton and Bruce Smith by either inviting them to the next meeting or if more timely, Josh and Kathryn will meet with them. A key question is what is the timing for a web based “here’s how you submit a comment /question;” we should continue to discuss this as well. The group discussed how to organize the web site and concurred that the web site should include the roster, charge, and minutes per each task group, and that all questions come into one general location to be routed as appropriate.
2. KEY MESSAGES MEMO WITH PRESIDENT KELLEY & ADDITIONAL Q&A: There are three key messages that folks speaking publicly about the transition are to convey: 1 – there are great things going on at UND; 2 – what the transition process is (working with consultant to make sure we develop a description of the process that will resonate with people and guide how we move forward with the process. The 5 pieces to the transition process are process, prudence, respect, inclusiveness, and transparency); and, 3 – we’re all in this together.
3. DEBRIEF FROM DEANNA ON HOMECOMING – In DeAnna’s absence, the topic was opened up for the group to discuss relevant occurrences during homecoming. Sean brought to the group’s attention that there were controversial t-shirts being sold in the Alerus Center parking lot during homecoming. Opinions aside, it is illegal to sell anything without approval of the Alerus Center. As an educational institution, we strive to foster an environment where folks understand the need to be respectful. Students provided their perspective on Homecoming stating that so far athletes are realistic, know it’s going change, are respectful, and there is positive feedback now that everyone knows that this is going to happen. Students in general were initially shocked, did not take the news well, but given time are adapting, and are looking to the future to move forward.
Josh asked about sentiments for how long is it tolerable not to have a nickname/logo. Students have heard rumors that new nickname has already been decided. Students suggest that the student body needs appropriate time between the retirement of the nickname to when a new one is identified. There are two conflicting sides, some alumni say just wait, some students say they want an identity. Not having these two groups conflict becomes a grassroots initiative. Timing also needs to be considered when taking into account ordering of logo’d athletic uniforms. Athletics needs something to market, to wear with pride. This is an important question to think through. Students are asked to help gauge the temperature of the student body on this.
4. DEBRIEF FROM SEAN ON START OF ATHLETIC SEASON – Sean was at a recent UND vs. Cal Poly football game, and noted that many alumni didn’t know what was going on and that we need to keep in mind that those who don’t live close may really not know. Cal Poly representatives couldn’t grasp why the nickname/logo needed to change. Specifically, if your state culture doesn’t include a Native American culture, you don’t think about it. This should serve as a reminder that we need to work with institutions we interact with from the athletic side so they know what’s going on.
Josh addressed one of the purposes of this meeting, with student partners now identified, is to bring the students up to speed and asked if they have any questions that the committee can help to get them informed, to help them be a better student representative as student feedback is important. From the athletic side, transitioning to a new nickname/logo helps athletics as a whole to compete in areas where they could not in the past; student body wise, need to know when the logo/nickname process will begin.
What will trigger the process to begin the change process: overall student/alumni sentiment? We need to keep in mind how we pull that all together, find that common ground.
Sean also confirmed that he has heard rumors that the nickname has already been picked. While there are questions that can’t be answered right now, there are some things we know and can share, such as question/answers regarding Ralph Engelstad Arena rumors. Athletics is not pushing the process to identify the nickname. However, a timeline for athletics needs for ordering new uniforms needs to be taken into consideration. August 15, 2011 has been identified as the date to stop using the nickname. A timeline needs to be outlined that is not open ended and in the very near future, need to identify criteria for what, when and how of process to understand ground rules. If no ground rules are stated, people will make their own, which is very polarizing if alumni want to wait and students want to move forward. Paul Omodt, of Padilla Speer Beardsley, Inc. is the critical issues management specialist retained to work through this issue.
5. OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS NEED COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES – Sean noted that things are going to happen next year that we need to address such as the Fight Song, Sioux Club, etc. While this committee won’t need to decide on these items, it will need to communicate it.
6. OTHER – Josh discussed holding meetings every other week, opposite the overall Transition Team meetings. The committee identified that Monday’s at 1:30pm worked for their schedules. Kim will check with rest of group (DeAnna and Kathryn).
Josh also asks that the group consider what is it going to take to communicate as a group and to store documents, whether it be via Blackboard, etc.