What's in a nickname? Plenty, as UND looks for a new one

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After going nickname-less for the past three years, the University of North Dakota is beginning its campaign for a new school moniker.

The school retired its old nickname and logo, the Fighting Sioux, in 2012, after a long and contentious legal battle over whether the symbols were offensive to local Sioux tribes and other American Indians.

The NCAA threatened sanctions, and eventually UND agreed to drop the Fighting Sioux.

State lawmakers then put into place a three-year moratorium on choosing a new nickname, so the school's athletic teams have been playing simply as "UND/North Dakota" since then.

The three years are up, so now it's time to choose a new permanent nickname. And North Dakotans are being asked to help come up with one.

School officials announced Tuesday they will begin taking nickname suggestions from the public Wednesday at 8 a.m., and will accept them through the month of April - online and through the mail.

Here are some of the rules: The submissions must be 25 characters or less (letters and spaces), and can be accompanied by a 140-character description of why that particular idea should be chosen, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

Only nicknames are being sought, so no sketches, logos, or artwork of any kind will be accepted.

And if you submit a suggestion, you won't receive any payment or anything else of value in exchange.

The suggestions will be evaluated based on these factors:

  1. Be unique, recognizable, inspiring, and distinctly UND’s.
  2. Promote a sense of pride, strength, fierceness, and passion.
  3. Be representative of the state and region in a way that honors the traditions and heritage of the past but also looks to the future.
  4. Be a unifying and rallying symbol.

Once the submission period is over, a consulting group will research the suggestions for any trademark or copyright infringement. The school's nickname committee will then narrow down the choices and put them to a public vote.

You can submit your nickname suggestion online at www.und.edu/nickname. If you want to submit it on a paper form, those will be available in the April 4 issues of several North Dakota newspapers.

What happens if the suggestions just aren't that good?

According to the Grand Forks Herald, UND President Robert Kelley said recently that keeping UND/North Dakota as a permanent name is still an option.

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