Update: SDSU student council rejects resolution to retire Aztec Warrior mascot

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — 4/18/2017 — The San Diego State University student council Wednesday rejected the resolution to retire the Aztec Warrior mascot.

San Diego State University issued the following statement about the vote: 

"San Diego State University has a long and successful tradition of shared governance. As such, when a policy issue arises, the university engages in a broader discussion of the issue through the appropriate and responsible democratically-elected body (e.g., Associated Students, University Senate, etc.).

Associated Students’ University Council recently engaged in their resolution process and voted against the proposed resolution regarding SDSU’s Aztec identity. We appreciate the thoughtful consideration our student leaders have given the issue. 

A similar resolution has also been proposed to the University Senate and is expected to go through its own policy discussion process in the fall. It is important to SDSU that all viewpoints regarding the university’s Aztec identity are given the opportunity to be respectfully heard and carefully considered."

Over the years, SDSU’s Aztec identity has been examined through a deliberative shared governance processes, including as recently as 2014 when the Associated Students voted 24-1 to maintain the current status.

The university went through a broadly based, thorough and thoughtful process in 2000-2003, to study, discuss and revise the university logo and mascot in a manner that is a fitting and appropriate affiliation with Aztec culture and history. 

That process — led by a task force of students, faculty, staff, alumni and experts in Aztec culture — provided important guidelines on how best to represent Aztec traditions, build communal spirit and honor specific facets of Aztec culture.

The changes were overwhelmingly confirmed in a student referendum then, and again confirmed by an AS resolution in 2006.

4/17/2017 — San Diego State’s mascot — Aztec Warrior, or Monty Montezuma — is once again at the center of debate on campus. 

The Native American Student Alliance last week passed a resolution to accept a new, non-human mascot and eventually phase out all current Aztec names, symbols and signs on campus.

The resolution was co-written by American Indian Studies professor Isador Monge, who said some students believe the mascot is a racialized stereotype of Native Americans.

This controversy is not new on campus. There have been efforts  over the years to change the mascot without success. The associated students two years ago voted 24 to 1 to keep it.

While many alumni, students and faculty depend keeping the mascot as a symbol of strength and unity. Professor Monge finds it racist and sees the university as having protected it over the years. 

"The university punished a fraternity for having a party where students were dressed like Indians while the university maintains a mascot that is a student dressed like an Indian," Professor Monge.

Some students feel oppressed and marginalized by this mascot, especially at an institution of learning where students should understand how the mascot affects Native Americans. 

Professor Monge said rather than honoring native people these caricatures perpetuate stereotypes. 

"When you look at it and examine it this is something that’s a relic from the time when the country was so openly racist, where white supremacy was treated as a fact," Professor Monge.

But change is a slow process especially in the sports world.

In 2005 the NCAA established a policy to remove harmful Indian mascots and many have. 

In addition, education and advocacy, like what’s happening on San Diego State’s campus, has shown results. Over 2,000 Indian references in sports have been eliminated but nearly a thousand remain.

At the professional level, football’s Washington Redskins and baseball’s Cleveland Indians are well known examples and targets for change.

This seems to be the most serious attempt to get rid of the Aztec’s symbol. 

At 3:30 on Wednesday, there will be a public discussion on this at the Conrad Preby’s Student Union on campus. Later, a vote will be taken by the Associated Students University Council.

Categories: Local San Diego News