Online pledge against offensive cheers at UMD | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Online pledge against offensive cheers at UMD

Posted: February 24, 2012 - 11:56pm

DULUTH (AP) — Dozens of people have signed an online pledge against abusive or racial chants during University of Minnesota-Duluth sporting events.

The pledge was created, in part, by a student following an admonishment by university officials over offensive chants at a recent men’s hockey game against the Fighting Sioux of the University of North Dakota. About 85 people had signed the pledge by noon Friday.

The Duluth News Tribune (http://bit.ly/xSYQMZ ) reports UMD Athletic Director Bob Nielson, in an open letter, admonished students last week for the chants at Amsoil Arena.

In addition to the online pledge, hockey fan Eric Fastner help craft a letter of apology to the student body and administration, saying the student fans involved “want to portray a better image, both for UMD and for Duluth.”

“We understand we crossed the line with our chants and that that wasn’t right,” said Fastner, who has had UMD student season hockey tickets for three years. “We thought an apology would be a good place to start to let the community know how we feel.”

In a column in this week’s UMD Statesman student weekly, UMD Chancellor Lendley Black said some of what he has witnessed throughout the men’s hockey season “is troublesome and disheartening.”

“Racist chants and gestures were hurtful and frightening to many and an embarrassment to all of us,” Black wrote of the Feb. 10-11 series between UMD and North Dakota. He said UMD will “confront such behaviors directly” at all future home games.

Black apologized to the American Indian community and said he will be apologizing to the North Dakota hockey team and to North Dakota tribes for the student fan behavior.

The reported chants of “Hi, HOW are you?” and war-whooping noises followed North Dakota’s return to using the Fighting Sioux nickname. The school has tried to drop the name, but supporters of the mascot recently gathered enough petition signatures to temporarily restore a state law that had required its use. The North Dakota Board of Higher Education is challenging the law that says University of North Dakota’s sports teams have to keep their Fighting Sioux nickname. The board wants to stop the issue from going to state voters in June.

UMD hockey captain Jack Connolly has taped a public service announcement urging fans to “Cheer respectfully. Be loud, but be proud.” The video was to be played Friday before the Bulldogs play their final regular-season home games against Colorado College.