OTHER VIEWS -- Indians should have voice on issue
Universities pride themselves on being forums for ideas and communities that welcome everyone. It's a world of intellectual freedom a time for students to explore a variety of concepts. So when it comes time to fill a key position, such as the pr...
Universities pride themselves on being forums for ideas and communities that welcome everyone.
It's a world of intellectual freedom a time for students to explore a variety of concepts.
So when it comes time to fill a key position, such as the president of the University of North Dakota, it's important everyone has a voice in the process.
David Gipp, president of United Tribes Technical College, has been critical of the State Board of Higher Education's presidential selection committee. The 16-member panel screening UND applicants is made up of faculty members, alumni, state officials and members of the Grand Forks community.
Gipp is upset because there are no American Indians on the committee. He's right to be unhappy.
One American Indian couldn't represent all the different tribes in the state. But someone holding a membership in one of the tribes while having widespread contacts within the broader native community of the state could have brought a needed perspective to the deliberations.
The search committee met for the first time Thursday. Its membership of 16 will remain at that number, said John Q. Paulsen, president of the State Board of Higher Education. So a way will need to be found to ensure that Indian concerns are heard during the process.
UND considers itself a leader in higher education for Indians.
But there's the issue of the Fighting Sioux logo. Part of the fallout from the UND-NCAA legal battle over the logo has been accusations that the university is out of touch with Indians. Paulsen previously was quoted as saying that the selection committee can adequately consider Indian concerns while reviewing candidates.
Whether intended or not, it's a somewhat condescending comment.
The history of Indian-white relations is filled with instances of whites being able to decide how Indians feel and what's best for them.
One of the search committee's actions Thursday was to extend the timeline of the search to Jan. 28, 2008, when nominations of three finalists will be made to the higher ed board.
Paul LeBel, chair of the search committee and dean of UND's law school, said that one of the reasons for the extension is to allow more time for public comment.
That's wise counsel.
And the state's American Indians, students and others, should take full advantage of the opportunity.