ST. GEORGE – After years of building tension and as attaining university status draws near for the college, the debate over the future name of Dixie State College of Utah has arrived at critical mass. Supporters of keeping the term “Dixie” in the name claim it retains identity and loyalty, while those who oppose the current name argue it reflects ignorance and even racism.
Wednesday, students at DSC met with student leaders to discuss and inform each other in an unofficial forum. In anticipation of the public meeting today, which will open the issue up to the community, Student Body President Brody Mikesell and Student Alumni President Austin Fackler presented facts from both sides of the issue.
“Dixie is a place,” Fackler said. “It is not an event. It is not a group of people.”
The term “Dixie” has been used to denote the southern region of Utah, and many local residents associate this with the experience and livelihood they have developed in the area, rather than with any negative allusions. As alumni president, Fackler addressed the importance of maintaining strong relationships with DSC alumni, and the possible risk if this source of income can no longer identify with the school. Recent additions to the campus, such as the Holland Building, are reminders of just how important alumni contributions are to DSC and the hopes for continued expansion and growth.
Nevertheless, there are students and community members who feel the name is offensive and tied to a regrettable period in our history as a nation.
“The denotation of this word does describe a geographic area,” Mikesell said. “But the connotation always comes back to slaves.”
This side of the debate has attracted a lot of attention and support from minority students, and those in attendance voiced concern over the history behind the term Dixie, the confederate-themed statues on campus, and other related issues. In a pursuit of the coveted university status, proponents pushing for change argue a more neutral name would be more palatable to people outside of the area, and to future supporters of the school.
A public forum will be held in the old Dixie campus building at 100 S. Main today at 7p.m. All are invited and welcome to discuss the future name of DSC.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.
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