OPINION – The debate for the name of Dixie State College of Utah, as it ascends to university status, wages on. Proponents for keeping the traditional name of “Dixie” argue that those drawing associations between the name and the slave-owning people of the actual South of history past do so without foundation, that the associations are fabricated.
Perhaps it would be beneficial for those who seek to elevate their beloved institution to a full-fledged university to understand the power in the meaning of the word “semblance.”
The dictionary defines the word as the outward appearance or apparent form of something, when the reality is different.
While dismissing any ties to the Civil War era’s South, the institution proudly flies a confederate flag on a statue predominately placed on campus.
Semblance of a tie to Civil War South?
While it maintains no associations with slavery, its library holds yearbooks with pictures depicting mock slave auctions and other discriminatory mock traditions.
Semblance of an underlying acceptance of discrimination?
But there may be a more telltale symptom that reveals the heart of the matter.
In the face of real-time evidence of ties to a heritage having some facets which are shameful, the proponents of the name Dixie deny validation to those who feel the weight of discrimination.
Rather than say that it is understood why they might feel the way they do, and that all reasonable assurances can be made that, in spite of an erroneous past, a righteous and just future can be assured, they categorically deny any associations with the past whatsoever.
This not only insults the intelligence of those who lay claim to being offended but, as my good friend Eric Young might say, it depreciates them.
And then you have the event of last week where a mob-like group appear at a public venue to heckle and boo those who present their opposition in legal and civil fashion. And there was the shutting down of a lawful candlelight vigil on the Dixie State campus by campus police.
These responses to protesters do not support the assertion that the name is merely a “tradition;” rather the responses display a mindset that refuses to accept responsibility for its history while at the same time demanding people only see what is good in its past.
The past of any community or individuaI is comprised of both good and bad. You cannot have one and not the other.
Clinging almost desperately and adamantly to a name reveals two things.
The first is a love for the respect this fine institution has earned over the last 100 years.
The second is an unwillingness to realize that the mere semblance of impropriety can damage the credibility of institutions and the people involved with them – in this case, from the Board of Regents right down to the graduating students.
Those in favor of retaining the name Dixie for the the institution want their plea to be taken seriously; but their plea was blown last week by the behavior of those raucous hecklers and by the unconstitutional shutting down of that candlelight vigil.
But there is today.
May I encourage both sides to try again to engage in a civil discourse through which both can be heard and a result might be reached that is a win-win for the institution and those who attend it?
Because, the future of both is at stake here. The lack of solidarity may tarnish the inaugural year of the University more than the name itself ever could.
See you out there.
Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2012, all rights reserved.