MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The University of Minnesota on Friday announced several days of programs intended to increase awareness of racial stereotyping ahead of next month's campus NFL game between the Vikings and Redskins.
University officials have said they're working with the Minnesota Vikings to keep Washington's "Redskins" name from being used when the teams play at TCF Bank Stadium on Nov. 2. That issue hasn't been resolved.
The programs start more than a week before the game and include panel discussions and the screening of a documentary about American Indian mascots in sports.
The university said the goal is to increase awareness and discussion about the effects of stereotyped American Indian mascots and logos.
Katrice Albert, the university's vice president of equity and diversity, told reporters Friday that "some of our community think that the Washington team name is offensive and other parts of our community don't really understand why it's offensive." She said the intent is to share "all voices" on the issue.
The university will accommodate demonstrators who plan to rally against the Washington team's name outside the stadium before the game, Albert said. But she said the school cannot prevent fans from wearing regalia with the "Redskins" name or image.
"It is freedom of expression," Albert said.
Nor can the university bar the Washington team from displaying its logo at the stadium, she said.
Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said Friday his team supports and encourages the university's efforts. The Vikings are playing on the university campus for two seasons while the team's new stadium is being built at the site of the old Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis.
"We've very sensitive to the issue (of American Indian mascot names). It's a big issue," Bagley said. But he added that the Vikings are obligated to market the Redskins game as they do with every opponent.
A Redskins spokesman did not immediately return a phone call for comment Friday.
Some Native American leaders have demanded the Washington team's name be changed, calling it a racial slur. Redskins owner Dan Snyder has vowed to never change the name, saying it honors Native Americans.