The Minnesota Vikings will face the Washington Redskins at TCF Bank Stadium on Nov. 2. Already chock-full of controversy, the NFL team’s name has sparked intense reactions from some Native American groups who view the name as a racial slur. This prompted claims that allowing a team with a racist name on campus would violate the Board of Regents’ Equity, Diversity, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy.
University President Eric Kaler has stated that the school is in discussion with the Vikings in an effort to keep the name from being used in PA announcements and promotional and game materials. Many prominent politicians and officials, including Gov. Mark Dayton, have called the name racist. Moreover, as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Washington team’s trademark use of the name, it seems that a societal verdict has been made.
Given the severe emotional harm and offense caused by the Redskins name, we believe it’s inappropriate for the Washington football team to continue using it. While the University may effectively have its hands tied by powerful NFL contractual obligations, we think it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure that the Washington team’s merchandise is not sold on campus and that there are no acknowledgments of the name on University grounds.
These actions — in addition to the planned protests at next month’s game — should send a clear message that we do not accept the team’s usage of the offensive name. We also implore the NFL and its Washington franchise to end this racism in professional football.