Awareness week set before game

Last week, Vice President for Equity and Diversity Katrice Albert announced an educational program designed to foster awareness of Native American culture before the Nov. 2 football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins.

The program, which begins about a week before the football game, is a response to the controversy surrounding the Redskins’ name and mascot, which many people feel are racist, and thus unfit for use at a publicly funded institution.

To design the awareness program, the University of Minnesota consulted the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, and others.

The awareness week includes a documentary film about Native American sports mascots and a discussion panel addressing different perspectives of the Washington naming controversy.

Although the University cannot stop the Washington Redskins from playing at TCF Bank Stadium, University President Eric Kaler has expressed a desire to prohibit the team’s name from being used in promotional and game-day materials. However, the stadium will admit fans wearing Washington football gear on game day.

We commend the University for designing such an inclusive awareness program. It would have been easy for the school to formally denounce the team’s name and then ignore further discussion. However, the University is making an obvious effort to address both sides of a controversial issue, fulfilling its responsibility as an educational institution.