Letter to the Editor: We are Dixie

Fountain displaying water on Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Chet Norman, St. George News

OPINION — My time at Dixie State University has been very unique. As a freshman, I would go to class, to work, and then home with no involvement in extracurricular activities. From my sophomore year until now, I have been involved in many different areas from volunteering on the DSU Alumni Board, participating in the student leadership with the DSU Student Alumni Association, being a member of the spirit group The D-Crew, and staying involved in several clubs on campus.

Dixie Rock, St. George, Utah | Image courtesy of Chet Norman, St. George News
Dixie Rock, St. George, Utah | Image courtesy of Chet Norman, St. George News

In the recent light of events which a DSU Professor suggested now is the time for a name change for Dixie State University, and I am here to tell you that would be a huge mistake.

Dixie State University has been alive for 104 years, since 1911. Dixie has been in its name since 1913 (see What is Dixie State University?).

Being involved at DSU has completely changed my understanding and has helped me better understand the Dixie Spirit. The feelings and attachment to DSU is part of what the Dixie Spirit consists of. The same unifying “spirit that has prompted thousands of alumni and townspeople to share their time, talents and financial resources with the school that gave them their start” (see DSU: Historical Overview).

This became necessary in dire times when Dixie almost was closed by the State in its early years. The name Dixie came from “many of the families assigned to settle the area hailed from the South and possessed the necessary skills to grow cotton and establish a community. Paying homage to the nickname of their former home, these settlers called the region ‘Utah’s Dixie.'” (See The History of St. George, Utah.)

Men posing for a photo in Dixie red, St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Chet Norman, St. George News
Men posing for a photo in Dixie red, St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Chet Norman, St. George News

The pride held for Dixie, our alma mater, is another component of the Dixie Spirit. The Dixie Spirit consists of so many things, and it is easily contagious. The Dixie Spirit is truly what helped inspire the founders of St. George and encouraged them to look forward in hopes of a positive future. This makes up everything about Dixie, St. George, Dixie State University, and the people it encompasses.

As I have read many of the recent publications on this topic, I created a Facebook Page, “We Are Dixie,” in support of preserving and maintaining the Dixie name. You hear too much about the negative in the media on this, which makes it difficult to truly understand the desires of those it involves.

The We Are Dixie Facebook Page was created at 1 p.m. on July 14, 2015, and as of the morning of July 16, 2015, there are over 2,600 Likes from individuals who are fully supportive of keeping “Dixie,” and have been voicing their experiences with Dixie and its relation to St. George and DSU (see Facebook Page, “We Are Dixie.”)

I ask all of you to join me as we support our important heritage of Dixie. Let’s look forward to the good we have done and the differences we can make. We can come together to support our own Dixie heritage, our community. Let’s show our support of higher education at Dixie State University, and inspire those around us, as the early occupants of our Dixie. WE ARE DIXIE, and we always will be!

Submitted by Chet Norman, DSU graduate 2015

We Are Dixie Facebook page, undated | Image courtesy of Chet Norman, St. George News
We Are Dixie Facebook page, undated | Image courtesy of Chet Norman, St. George News

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them; they do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News.

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34 Comments

  • BIG GUY July 17, 2015 at 7:41 am

    “A rose is still a rose by any other name.”
    I appreciate and admire Chet’s enthusiasm and commitment to DSU. But I challenge him and all who champion keeping the “Dixie” name as follows. Suppose instead the early pioneers who settled this area were from Indiana instead of the South. Now reread the entire letter substituting the word “Hoosier” for “Dixie.” Would Chet’s devotion and enthusiasm be somehow less than it is now? Of course not. Do DSU students focus on the geographic origins of the early pioneers? Most likely only in passing when it is mentioned in some campus activity and then quickly forgotten. Chet and the others are committed to the institution, not the name.

    • CN July 17, 2015 at 10:49 am

      BIG GUY: I appreciate your own opinion. You can take it however you want, but either way Dixie is what it is. Regardless, it is not “Hoosier” so no need to even worry about it. Have a great day!

      • mesaman July 17, 2015 at 7:33 pm

        I was unaware that the D was lit at any other events than D Day or Homecoming. It is lit up with electric lights, however. Is this what you are referring to.

      • mesaman July 17, 2015 at 7:44 pm

        CN, somehow my comment was directed to “Hunter” but ended up here.
        That aside, I cheer your article and want it known that I want the name Dixie to remain where it is, on all the businesses, the first names, the university, and the spirit that kept Dixie College, now University alive. I taught at Dixie, despised the liberals who dumped the Rebel mascot, and wrote a rather nasty letter to the editor which they apparently took umbrage when I suggested that the psychology assistant professor tender her resignation for her acts against the university. She commented that she was not ignorant of the trials and tribulations of the past that kept the Dixie Spirit alive, to which I offered the fact that she was too modest, she is totally ignorant of these trials and tribulations. No doubt the name is under fire from the radical left and the newcomers who seem to be looking for something they think needs repairing. I predict this will not result in the name change. So there’s my opinion.

        • Simone July 17, 2015 at 9:52 pm

          Mesaman, As a current student at DSU, reading that you once taught at DSU brings me great joy because it implies that you no longer work there. the fact that you openly admit that “despised” liberals simply because you think that wanted to change the name of some dumb mascot disgraces not only yourself but the university and conservatives as a whole. By the way, just so we’re clear I was at DSC when they changed the mascot. The university put some names up for a vote among the students as I recall and then decided to go in a completely different direction. “Red Storm” was not an option on that ballot and it was not a popular name even among the “liberals”(though I think its pretty obvious considering this area that the “liberals” at the college weren’t the only ones arguing for changing the mascot) you so despised. In fact, considering this article, I doubt “liberals” had as much influence over it as you thought.

          • Simone July 17, 2015 at 10:06 pm

            here’s another article from DSU itself explaining the real reason for the change.

          • mesaman July 18, 2015 at 7:49 am

            Just goes to show you the open door policy often admits students, like yourself, who would be better served to get a job in a warehouse stacking boxes. You are correct, the
            “Red Storm” fiasco was precisely that; a few administrators and appointed members of the board made a unilateral decision to select that pathetic Russian War symbol. Incidentally, St Johns U, also called the Red Storm were forced to drop their Native American name, in somewhat the same way we did.

        • Accountable September 22, 2015 at 1:44 pm

          I totally agree with you Mesaman!

  • LanneG July 17, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Thank you Chet Norman, DSU Alumni Marketing Specialists. One thing. Would you please remove the distasteful photo of the burning “D,” the photo reminiscent of a burning cross, from your Facebook page?

    • CN July 17, 2015 at 10:50 am

      LANNEG: I’m glad to know you are picking apart each little thing. If you had any understanding of what it was about you would understand. The burning “D” is a prop simply used at some events and promotional purposes. It has no relations or reminiscent of burning crosses. that is simply your own opinion. Have a great day!

  • Hunter July 17, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Mr. Norman and his Facebook page share some really great stories of the spirit of our region’s university. But, are we to believe that those attitudes, affinities and peoples’ pride in the region and the school would not exist if called something else? It seems to me what Mr. Norman describes is a remarkable fabric of community that transcend any particular name. By this token, one would have to argue that changing the name from DSC to DSU would have the same effect, and clearly this is not the case.

    • CN July 17, 2015 at 10:51 am

      HUNTER: Thanks for sharing your opinion. Have a great day!

  • SteveSGU July 17, 2015 at 9:01 am

    This issue is really not about the university. It is bigger than that. The college and subsequently the university were named after our area, this beautiful low-lying area with the great climate and the wonderful people. Utah’s Dixie in turn took its moniker from very positive similarities with the Dixie of the South. (I don’t see people continuously slandering England and everything British-related in the world because they used to have slavery and an unfair class system.)

    Dixie has been a name happily applied to many, many places around the country. Trying to reignite a finished discussion about renaming a university will do nothing to make our society a better one. Concentrate instead on loving all people and encouraging all people to work for good things in their lives.

    • CN July 17, 2015 at 10:51 am

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Accountable September 22, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      Love your reply Stevesgu!

  • Uncle Lenny July 17, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Let “Dixie” be. Should my friend Dixie change her name? This whole issue is nonsense. I would rather see the time spent on this be used to do something constructive. Educate drivers to replace burned out lamps, use their turn signals and get their heads out of their apps. It’s a great name, let it be. Move on.

  • KarenS July 17, 2015 at 10:20 am

    My ancestors were “called” to settle St. George and they were not from the South at all. Only some who settled here were southerners. I think we need to change with the times and find a new name for the university. We don’t grow cotton anymore. You can still support a university no matter what name it is called.

    • CN July 17, 2015 at 10:52 am

      Thanks for sharing! Great insight!

  • anybody home July 17, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Dixie State made a mistake early on by allying itself with the southern Dixie and displaying the Confederate flag, calling themselves Rebels, installing statues…all of that, and all with the happy support of the citizens of St. George. Now they want to back up and say, “Wait, we didn’t mean it. We’re not like that other Dixie.” The university has taken steps to “dis-ally” itself with the southern Dixie. It would have been easier to defend the choice of names if St. George and this area hadn’t gone all out to identify their Dixie with that of the southeast in the first place. But God knows, Mormons hate to admit they might be wrong.

    I grew up near a little town up north named Dixie in wheat farming country. But I don’t recall anybody up there ever associating it with the southern Dixie – no Confederate flags flying, no Rebel yells. I think, in fact, that it was named after somebody’s wife, so yes there are other places in the country with that name, but it’s not quite the same as St. George’s Dixie, which by the way is really nothing like the southern Dixie geologically or in terms of weather. Making that comparison is just plain silly.

    But the question here may really be more about the future than the past for this school, not about the alums of Dixie State who will wear their red and white proudly to the end, but about recruiting future students. The Millenials as a group are much more tolerant and attuned to social justice. Perhaps the name Dixie State will not appeal as much in the future. Or perhaps this is just another Mormon tempest in a teacup. If good Mormons drank tea. I guess you can be happy they didn’t name it Mountain Meadows University.

    By the way, I agree about that photo of the burning D. Mr. Norman, if you want support for your argument, take down that picture.

    • CN July 17, 2015 at 11:23 am

      Thanks for sharing your own opinion.

    • Hunter July 17, 2015 at 11:24 am

      While I certainly don’t agree with Mr. Norman’s assessment of the name Dixie and I do think it should be changed, those of you making the connection between the burning D and the burning cross are really grasping at straws.

      • anybody home July 17, 2015 at 12:30 pm

        Please explain the significance of the burning “D”…that would help us understand.

        • Hunter July 17, 2015 at 1:52 pm

          It’s done at spirit events and special events. It’s attention grabbing. Professional sports teams do it all the time with logos, names, etc. It’s akin to setting off fireworks or having a bonfire.

    • justcap July 18, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      Sorry but the Millennials are not more tolerant. They are becoming less tolerant of anyone who disagrees with them or holds a traditional view on anything.

      • anybody home July 18, 2015 at 3:27 pm

        I’m sure you’ve been reading up on this and have all the data to prove your point. You’re still wrong.

        • justcap July 18, 2015 at 11:39 pm

          Haha good one professor.

  • 42214 July 17, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Leave it Dixie and let the naysayers learn to live with it. It’s their problem, not ours.

  • Saab July 17, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    I personally don’t have an issue with the name Dixie, perhaps because I wasn’t born and raised here in the USA. I’m a citizen now and I have learn the history of this great nation and I do see a lot of amazing things that have happened here and a lot of bad and negative this too. For some, Dixie symbolizes the Pioneer sacrifice that took place here in Southern Utah, for others it symbolizes what the Confederates from the South stood for, Slavery and racism. For the locals, Dixie is nothing offensive, but for all those at national level and international level perhaps the symbolism comes across as negative. I’ve read a lot of comments about this issue and some people just say “Well if they don’t like it, they can leave”. Are we trying to appeal to more people out there and say come here to St. George come to Dixie, you are all welcome or well if you don’t like it, don’t come here don’t even bother. Like I said, is not about the name, I think is about how we come across as individuals and as a community. Do you think that African americans and other minorities would want to come here to Dixie by the thousands if the name was a different one? I know we have some here but not a whole lot or do we say, Oh no, we’re good here, we don’t need the Black people and Hispanics and middle east people here. Do we want to become a better University and bigger if that means to give up just a name, or we don’t really give a crap and we’re good just the way we are? I’m not a pro or a con I just think that we should be a little more understanding and educate ourselves a little more and stop being followers of what other people say. Thanks!

    • Hunter July 17, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      While Dixie can symbolize many different things for each of us, the name in inexorably tied to the Southern Confederacy in terms of its roots in Utah. the Confederate battle flag was prominently displayed. A statue of a Confederate figure was in place on the campus. The moniker of “Rebel” was proudly worn. While these things have changed and aren’t a part of the current culture, to say that the name Dixie as it pertains to this school and this region has nothing to do with racism or the Confederacy is disingenuous. As I’ve said on other threads, the move to change the name isn’t to cover up or erase the past. It’s an acknowledgment that we will no longer place this name that is so closely tied to a racist past in such a prominent and honored position. This goes way beyond geography, as many defenders of the name would have us believe.

  • munchie July 17, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    The phrase “If you don’t like it, you can leave” is the unofficial slogan of this town. It applies to all aspects of life here, from the ridiculous liquor laws, to the poverty level wages workers are paid, and to anyone who questions the status quo. And, of course, it all starts with the ever- intrusive church. Think and act like we do or you are invited to leave. This is a very beautiful place, but “Dixie Spirit” is a joke.

    • anybody home July 18, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      Amen to this, Munchie

  • EarlWarren July 18, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Important, positive change is not a popularity contest. Plain and simple: http://stgeorgestateu.wordpress.com/about/

    • Accountable September 22, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      These attempts to remove Dixie are yet another example of a cultural cleansing of America by ignorant liberal sheep.

      They are trying to desecrate Confederate generals’ and soldiers’ graves — citizens of our country. They want to remove and deface tributes to our American past. They want to undermine elements of Southern culture that are otherwise innocuous and, in most instances, historically significant … Sadly, they were successful in doing so at DSU.

      Enough. The “silent majority” has to stand up and speak up.

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