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Northern State administration push to drop Gypsy Days theme from homecoming

Administration at Northern State University are supporting a name change to homecoming and ditch the Gypsy Days theme.
Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 6:15 PM CST
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Administration at Northern State University have elected to drop the ‘Gypsy Days’ theme for homecoming, citing a goal to build inclusivity at NSU, and move away from a name that it says that many today recognize as offensive to the Romani people.

In a statement Friday, NSU President Dr. Tim Downs stated “The reason for this change was due to the disconnect between our goal of building an inclusive campus culture, attentive to belonging and collegiality, with a term that many today recognize as offensive to a marginalized population.”

NSU Vice President of Enrollment, Marketing, and Communication Justin Fraase said conversations about supporting a name change have been ongoing officially since 2019 but said informal discussions around campus have been going on for much longer.

“I think that there have always been conversations on this campus. Maybe stemming back even decades regarding the former name of our homecoming event,” Fraase said.

The decision to change the name still needs a resolution of support from the NSU Student Government, as well as the Faculty Senate. Fraase said that this won’t erase any of the past homecoming celebrations, but rather begin a new tradition on campus and in the community.

“This has a very long and rich tradition. We’re not going to airbrush the past. But we feel very excited and optimistic about what’s to come. Because we know the community rallies behind Northern. It has time and time again.”

And Fraase said ultimately it’s the community and those who celebrate homecoming that makes a tradition, not any one name.

“The name of this event was never really the importance of the event. The importance is community. It’s about bringing together alumni, community members, faculty, staff. I mean it’s the people behind the event, it’s not the name.”

Fraase said that should each body pass support for the name change, a group of university representatives as well as community members will be formed to begin the process of picking a new theme for homecoming, something he said the administration will be centered around Northern State and it’s involvement in Aberdeen.

Correction: A previous version of this story erroneously stated that the NSU Administration supported a name change to a new NSU-based theme.

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