Native American leaders in the state of North Dakota are calling on the University of North Dakota to take swift, harsh disciplinary action against a handful of students who wore vaguely insensitive T-shirts during an off-campus party.
“Expel them,” demanded David Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock Tribe, in a statement to Bakken Today. “Expel the students. Zero tolerance.”
What did the students do that was so offensive? They wore T-shirt with the message, “Siouxper Drunk,” during a spring party at a public park near campus. (RELATED: Even NYT Thinks Colleges Are Taking Political Correctness Too Far)
The shirts also depicted “the Fighting Sioux,” which was once the official mascot of UND sports teams. The mascot has been officially banned since 2012, when state voters opted to prohibit UND from using it out of concern for the feelings of Native Americans.
The party was not sponsored by the university, according to Campus Reform.
Earlier this week, university administrators met with Native American leaders at the state Capitol to discuss the incident. University spokesman Peter Johnson described the T-shirts as clearly “offensive and racist,” and promised that the university would do a better job of educating students about “sensitivity issues,” in the future.
But anything short of expulsion is unacceptable, said Archambault.
The names of the students have not been released, and it is unclear whether the university believes it could or should expel them. As a public university, UND is bound to protect its students free expression rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution–even when such expression is offensive.
UND President Robert Kelley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.