The University of Minnesota does not want the Washington Redskins name being used when they play the Minnesota Vikings on November 2 at the university’s stadium. The Vikings will be using the university’s stadium for the next two years while their new stadium is being built, writes Samantha Reinis of CampusReform.
Most of the details involving the sharing of the stadium have been addressed and settled — except one. The university does not want the Redskins to distribute promotional materials (t-shirts, paraphernalia) because of the team’s “offensive” name.
U of M president Eric Kaler voiced his concern over the name in an email to U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn), in which he claimed that the university is “working with the Vikings to make every effort to eliminate the use of Washington’s team name.”
McCollum is against the Redskins being allowed to use their name on items sold at the game because, in her opinion, the name and logo violate the Board of Regents affirmative action, diversity, and equal opportunity policies.
The policy states that “the University seeks to foster an environment that is diverse, humane, and hospitable” and that the “president or delegate shall … remedy any discriminatory practice that deviates from this policy.”
In a press release, the university said the Redskins’ name promotes “negative and harmful stereotypes — offensive and inappropriate.” The owner of the Redskins, Daniel Snyder, said that the team’s name actually honors the team’s first coach, William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz, who was of Native American heritage. The university and the Vikings continue to talk to the Native American community to ensure that there will be a peaceful and positive event, but that protest and expression will also have a place if necessary. McCollum wrote a letter to Viking’s owner Zygi Wilf, urging him to come against the Redskins’ name.
Redskins’ spokesman Tony Wyllie said:
“We have met many native Americans from Minnesota who agree with our position and feel we are using the term correctly and honorably. ”
Recently the US Patent and Trademark office canceled the Redskins trademark registration, according to Ian Shapira, reporting for The Washington Post. Though this was a victory for those who oppose the team’s name, it did not put an end to the team selling its logo-laden t-shirts and other souvenirs.
The Associated Press reports that Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley said that the team was sensitive to the name issue, especially since Minnesota has a large number of Native American residents.
Ethan Trex of MentalFloss writes that other universities that have had football team name problems as well. Miami University’s team name was the Redskins until 1997 when they changed it to RedHawks “for obvious reasons”.