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MSUM prof takes issue with Katrina refugee term

Proper terminology is important in academia - just ask Andrew Conteh. The Minnesota State University Moorhead political science professor lectures passionately about what he calls the improper use of the word "refugees" to describe people displac...

Proper terminology is important in academia - just ask Andrew Conteh.

The Minnesota State University Moorhead political science professor lectures passionately about what he calls the improper use of the word "refugees" to describe people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Conteh points to a 1951 U.N. convention that defined "refugee" as any person who has fled his or her country due to fear of being persecuted "for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion."

Also, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees has not become involved in Katrina relief, Conteh noted.

To be consistent with the rest of the world, Katrina victims should instead be referred to as "internally displaced persons" or "displaced Americans," he said.

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"We have to be very careful how we portray the country," said Conteh, a native of Sierra Leone.

Several news organizations - including The Seattle Times, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald and The Boston Globe - have banned the word "refugee" in their Katrina coverage, the Associated Press reported.

Webster's dictionary defines "refugee" as "a person who flees from home or country to seek refuge elsewhere, as in a time of war or of political or religious persecution."

AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said the AP is using the word "where appropriate to capture the sweep and scope of the effects of this historic natural disaster on a vast number of our citizens."

Billboard deal signed

North Dakota State University has partnered with the Bobcat Co. for a billboard advertising campaign to promote NDSU's Cooperative Education Program.

Last year, the program placed 540 students in co-op jobs - a 23 percent increase over the previous year - including 96 at Bobcat, according to NDSU Career Center Director Jill Wilkey said.

Students receive academic credit for the paid work experiences.

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The partnership with Bobcat will support two billboards: one in the 400 block of North University Drive and one near the 12th Avenue North bridge.

Student starts paper

Last year's editor of the NDSU student newspaper has launched his own publication, intended to be an "entertaining and insightful" alternative to The Spectrum.

In last Friday's debut issue of The Bull Sheet, Matthew Perrine writes that NDSU is "getting too big and too culturally diverse for just one point of view."

Perrine said he dropped off 50 copies of the one-page publication in the university's IACC building because he wasn't sure where he could place them on campus and "more importantly, I couldn't afford to print off too many more."

The Spectrum had a controversial year with Perrine in charge, due to the short-lived "Allison Moorhead" sex column and what he refers to in The Bull Sheet as a "perceived liberal bias."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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