OPINION – OK, can we finally be done with this nonsense about the Dixie State University nickname and mascot?
Trailblazers is not a terrible nickname. In fact, it is probably the best of those put before the public the last time around.
So, DSU could have done worse.
DSU has been rebranded, all that Rebels and Red Storm stuff has been packed away in some archive somewhere and now it is time to get back to the real purpose of DSU, which is to educate our young people.
This branding thing is minimal. As long as the school mascot and nickname do not reflect poorly on the institution, or make no sense whatsoever, it really doesn’t matter whether you call DSU the Trailblazers, Gila Monsters or Desert Tortoises. That business of the school being represented by a confederate soldier, teamed with the moniker Rebels, was bad mojo, a constant reminder of slavery and oppression. The red Storm thing? It was just dumb.
Trailblazers works just fine, thank you.
It is funny how some are trying to string together a correlation between the name and the institution.
None of that really matters.
So, please, let’s get on with this business.
There are more important things to do, like building credentials and credibility that will make DSU something more than a cheaper alternative to other institutions in the state.
Last November, the trustees approved the school’s mission statement: “Dixie State University is a public comprehensive university dedicated to rigorous learning and the enrichment of the professional and personal lives of its students and community by providing opportunities that engage the unique Southern Utah environment and resources.”
Pretty boring stuff, to be honest; very corporate, ho-hum, dated language.
Look, our students are paying a lot of money these days – no matter where they attend college – to learn and be challenged. “Rigorous learning” sounds like something out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald book, old sport.
DSU is still struggling to build an identity.
It was a community college for so long, and made the jump from that status to university in such a short time, that it is still trying to find its way.
It hasn’t established itself quite yet.
That’s why I seriously hope this whole business of fretting over a mascot and nickname is finished.
It’s time now for DSU to find its path and evolve.
The whole time that fight was being waged about Rebels and such was an indication that residents were focusing more on the past than the future.
It really, at this point, doesn’t matter that DSU was once a church-owned and operated school called The St. George Stake Academy.
Although it is important to remember where you came from, it is more important to know where you are going. As George Harrison wrote: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
I would like to see DSU take steps to become a serious place of education unlike many other schools that are commuter college diploma factories.
Yeah, you may earn a degree from those schools, but out in the real world, it doesn’t hold a lot of worth.
DSU is at a place where it can make those decisions and become more than just a diploma factory or a cheap place to continue one’s education.
The intangibles a university adds to a community are reflected in many ways – from a boosted economy to civic pride and prestige.
St. George can benefit from that. It is already a city that has experienced phenomenal growth spurts in the past and, as we all know, without growth, a community withers.
But, a university’s growth is not only a matter of enrollment numbers.
It comes from a certain spirit, a willingness to challenge young minds; a concerted effort to set standards that require serious academic pursuit; a commitment to embrace thoughts that are not necessarily within the realms of comfort and require expansive thought.
I’m not sure how much of that, quite frankly, is on the table at DSU.
The college environment is also supposed to be experiential, broadening. That requires immersion in the arts, cultural diversity, independence and free thought – attributes that are implemented by the community.
Free thought is, perhaps, the most important of those elements because, as Margaret Mead once said, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” So now that, hopefully, all of this hassling over a nickname is finished, perhaps we can move on and help DSU grow into an identity beyond that of a cheap, geographically friendly place to earn a degree.
There is nothing better that we can do for our future generations than establish serious institutions of higher education where they can grow and learn.
So, congratulations, DSU, on becoming the Trailblazers.
Now it’s time to live up to that moniker.
But remember that the value of education is not based on a clever school nickname and cute mascot. It is based on exploring the limitless boundaries of the mind and soul, challenging old thinking and introducing new thoughts and experiences.
“It is in fact a part of the function of education to help us escape, not from our own time – for we are bound by that – but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our time,” T.S. Eliot said.
So, while DSU moves to make the Trailblazer moniker fit, St. George must also blaze a few trails of its own to do what it can to contribute to the overall educational experience at the university.
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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