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Published April 05, 2012, 05:30 PM

UND Sports Supporters Worry Statewide Voters Don't Know Consequences of Upcoming Sioux Vote

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Some University of North Dakota sports supporters are nervous about a statewide vote that will allow the people to decide whether the school should keep or get rid of the Fighting Sioux nickname.

By: Stacie Van Dyke, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Some University of North Dakota sports supporters are nervous about a statewide vote that will allow the people to decide whether the school should keep or get rid of the Fighting Sioux nickname.

The Supreme Court declined to rule on the constitutionality of the law, so the issue will be on the June 12 ballot.

Grand Forks voters make up just eight percent of more than 500,000 eligible voters statewide and many are concerned that people outside the city don't fully understand the consequences of their vote.

"They don't really see what's going on firsthand. They might just read about it in the paper," UND student Greg Syrup said.

Many worry that people outside Grand Forks don't understand how keeping the nickname could damage UND and its athletics program.

"We would hope that voters would become as informed as they can about what the vote means, about what their vote might mean," Vice President of University Relations Peter Johnson said.

If voters choose "no" on the ballot to keep the Fighting Sioux name, the university would suffer under NCAA sanctions.

As of right now, UND plans to play no part in informing the state of the possible repercussions. University reps say they're "digesting information."

"I feel like the university is so trying to stay out of it," UND student Jessy Bruns said.

"We know that there are some state laws in place that govern our ability to provide information and how we provide information. So we're very cognizant of that and very respectful of the laws and the system in place," Johnson said.

"It's definitely caused some issues with how students feel about some of the administration and what's going on there," Syrup said.

Some UND students are also concerned that rivalry may fuel how some vote.

"There could be some that would want to keep them out of some sporting events, so I could see some people voting to keep the name," NDSU student Katrina Wilke said.

"Yeah, punish UND a little bit and keep NDSU a notch above," NDSU student Ian Godfrey said.

"It's just frustrating for everybody. I've lived in Grand Forks all my life and been a Sioux fan all my life and I'd really rather see something happen sooner than later," Syrup said.

"We have the nickname, we don't. It'd be nice for it to just be over with," UND student Tim Larson said.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Thursday that a vote in favor of the nickname would return the issue to the North Dakota Supreme Court to present the case against the nickname law once again.

Nickname supporters are also circulating a petition that advocates a pro-nickname amendment to the North Dakota Constitution.

They need nearly 27,000 signatures by midnight on August 8 to qualify for the November general election ballot.

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