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Students march to change SDSU mascot

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Students march to change SDSU mascot

Students march to change the mascot prior to the spring 2017 AS vote. Photo by Andrew Dyer.

Students march to change the mascot prior to the spring 2017 AS vote. Photo by Andrew Dyer.

Andrew Dyer

Students march to change the mascot prior to the spring 2017 AS vote. Photo by Andrew Dyer.

Andrew Dyer

Andrew Dyer

Students march to change the mascot prior to the spring 2017 AS vote. Photo by Andrew Dyer.

by Will Fritz, Senior Staff Writer

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San Diego State students rallied on Monday to protest the Aztec mascot ahead of the University Council’s vote on a resolution to retire the mascot.

The Student Diversity Commission voted unanimously to send the resolution to the council during a meeting on April 10. The resolution was initially submitted to Associated Students by the Native American Student Alliance.

Protesters first organized in front of Hepner Hall, waving signs and using a loudspeaker to express their opposition to the Aztec name and moniker. Protesters later marched around campus, shouting their opposition to the mascot.

While rallying in front of Hepner Hall, MEChA member Michelle Parra directed her attention to faculty who stood nearby and observed the protest, and shouted at them to come closer.

“We’re here asking you all to represent us as students of color,” she said. “This is unacceptable that we are in this (educational system), and we are still having to deal with racism.”

Parra said she is not proud of the Aztec mascot or that many buildings on campus are named in the Aztec language, Nahuatl.

Participants in the rally said the Aztec mascot is racist, and a gross example of cultural appropriation.

One such student, creative writing master’s student Brooke Peterson, said it is not a question for her whether or not the mascot is offensive.

“It’s controversial in terms of like, there are very much people for and against it,”Peterson said. “But I don’t think that the issue of ‘is this racist or not?’ is controversial at all. I think all the research backs up the fact that it is racist, and I think the personal experiences of people who have to live with the impact also backs that up.”

She mentioned Ozzie Monge, a lecturer who wrote his dissertation on the use of the mascot, and Lydia Wood, a graduate student who she said is currently writing a dissertation on colonization.

“There’s a lot of research being done right here on the issue,” she said.

Other bystanders had mixed opinions on the protest and the Aztec mascot.

Sociology freshman Mykah Peters said she likes the uniqueness of the mascot, but understands the controversy over its use because it is an actual person.

“I don’t really see the Aztec anywhere else,” she said. “Like, when you think of a school, you think of an animal or something like that.”

Accounting freshman Nathan Youssef called the debate “stupid” and said the university is not going to change the mascot because students identify as Aztecs.

“I just think that it’s who we are,” he said. “And to change that is something that’s not right.”

Kinesiology senior Harrison Smith said he does not think the mascot has ever been a negative symbol.

“I think it always meant strength and power,” he said. “I don’t think they’ve ever appropriated Mexican or Aztec culture. I’m not for it or against it. I don’t think what they’re protesting against is true.”

Associated Students College of Arts and Letters representative Nick Elliott was present in the demonstration. He said he supports changing the mascot.

“I believe that it negatively affects a lot of communities on this campus,” he said.

Elliott said the push from alumni, athletics and other groups on campus to keep the mascot is misguided.

“I think that what they think they’re doing is right and justified, but I think they’re just blinded by privilege, frankly,” he said.

Center for Intercultural Relations Director Edwin Darrell called the protest an opportunity for students to voice their opinions.

“I think this is a student issue, at this point, and I’m here to support students to have these conversations,” he said.

Dean of Students Randy Timm said the university is making sure that there’s a space for students to be able to speak.

A.S. President-elect Chimezie Ebiriekwe said the protest was a great opportunity to bring awareness to the issue.

“Not a lot of students walking around campus know that there’s a resolution going through,” he said.

Ebriekwe said he would not take a position on the mascot until after he has been sworn out as Associated Students University Affairs Board Chair, and will oversee the vote.

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15 Responses to “Students march to change SDSU mascot”

  1. Stewart Teaze '83 on April 19th, 2017 9:33 am

    Very snowflakish… Ignore this childish silliness, and let’s go 14-0 in ’17. Go Aztecs!

  2. John on April 19th, 2017 10:32 am

    Anyone else find it highly hypocritical for Nick Elliott to assume, group, and categorize thousands upon thousands of individuals as being “blinded by privilege”? Backing your position using a holier-than-thou argument is the exact definition of “blindness” to the opinions of others.

  3. Joe Solis on April 19th, 2017 11:16 am

    I’m curious as to how many in the Native American Student Alliance are actually Aztec like I am. My Mothers’ family comes from near Mexico City and Aztec blood is in my veins. As such, I heartily endorse keeping the Aztec name and Mascot. Monty LIVES!

    B.S. Business Administration 1987.

  4. Clifton talvo on April 19th, 2017 12:46 pm

    “We’re here asking you all to represent us as students of color,” she said. “This is unacceptable that we are in this (educational system), and we are still having to deal with racism.”

    WHAT BETTER REPRESENTATION COULD YOU ASK FOR THAN TO HAVE THE SCHOOL NAMED AFTER PEOPLE OF COLOR!?!? proposal: fight against issues that matter, oh, and look up the definition of racism.

  5. Jim on April 19th, 2017 2:48 pm

    Am I the only one who finds it ridiculously hypocritical for these kids to pay TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars to go to a school who’s mascot offends them????

    Especially when the college ALL READY tried to appease them a few years ago with the whole removal of monty montezuma and replaced it with the ridiculously pathetic “ambassador montezuma”?

    Not to mention I would bet money that if the university does change the mascot more to appease them, they’ll just get cocky and go find something else to cry about and demand they change too.

    2 major rules of life are

    1. You can NEVER have things your way 100% of the time will NEVER be able to please everybody, no matter how hard you may try.

    So if the majority of past AND present students want SDSU to stay Aztecs then just tell these cry babies to put in their transfer papers ASAP and go somewhere where they’re not sad and ironic hypocrites!

  6. Chris on April 19th, 2017 4:21 pm

    “It’s controversial in terms of like, there are very much people for and against it,”Peterson said.

    She’s getting a Master’s Degree… in writing?! Oh my… Brooke, you have so much more to worry about than this…

  7. Bob on April 19th, 2017 6:08 pm

    That’s not a march, that’s 23 people making a lot of noise over nothing.

    If you change the name, can I get a refund on my lifetime Alumni dues?

    Aztec Proud since 1995!

  8. JeffreyPtr on April 19th, 2017 7:36 pm

    Humanity is tribal, we have a preference for those like ourselves and always will. This means some racism is always going to be part of our experience. Eliminating a mascot will have no impact at all on human behavior. Racism will still be with us.

  9. Josh Marshall on April 19th, 2017 7:37 pm

    Thank Goodness it failed…we spent a lot time trying to strike a balance back in 2000 and I think it turned out awesome.

  10. Erik on April 19th, 2017 8:53 pm

    “I think that what they think they’re doing is right and justified, but I think they’re just blinded by privilege, frankly,”

    This is the part that really got to me. He deigns to dismiss my opinion as invalid because of some “privilege” he assumes I have because I disagree with him?

    I am of Mexican descent. The son of a single mother who was born in Mexico and worked hard to raise my sister and I. I know full well the history of the Aztecs and to some extent have felt it as part of my history and never once have I felt offended at the school’s use of the mascot. On the contrary, I always felt pride in the school’s use of the mascot. My entire family holds the Aztecs with great reverence, and whether Aztec blood flows in my veins or not, they have the utmost pride in my sister and I, who graduated from this school, who have gone forth to personal and professional success, and who call ourselves Aztecs.

    To Mexicans, the Aztecs were fierce warriors, yes, but they were also brilliant astronomers, engineers, and scholars which I think perfectly embodies the values of our school. I do not feel that SDSU has appropriated the culture so much as I feel it has celebrated it and extended all it represents to all those willing to to come to our school and earn the distinction.

    I will not deny that there are examples of misuse and that mascots may not always have been adopted with the best of intentions. That said, I think it is far more respectful to ensure that we live up to the symbol and all it represents; to elevate it along with ourselves, instead of disposing of in order to go with something inoffensive, to be content adopting a symbol without meaning because we’re afraid of disrespecting it. If we do not want to offend what the symbol represents, what the Aztecs as a people represent, then we should not cast it aside but instead ensure that we live up to, elevate it, and ensure it commands respect by being knowledgable, honorable, and productive people forged in the home of the Aztecs.

  11. kamwick on April 20th, 2017 6:54 am

    Well said!These students could really benefit from having you as a guest speaker.

  12. Clifton talvo on April 19th, 2017 10:02 pm

    So the vote was denied and we remain Aztecs….. as a result a few AS individuals have resigned. It is this cry baby attitude that is destroying this country. Since when is quitting the answer when things don’t go your way?? I predict a difficult life for those who quit. Wake up people, you’re adults now. Start acting like it.

  13. Richard Navarrette on April 19th, 2017 10:57 pm

    This is just a snapshot of the students opinions but based on what is written here I’m actually disappointed that they are so passionate about defacing the history of this school. Take great pride as a descendant of the Aztecs to see people of all backgrounds attend graduate and spread the Aztec Alumni 👨‍🎓 across the globe 🌎. The Aztec civilization is no longer part of our modern world but the Aztec name is alive with the passion of individuals who carry the name of this University and rub elbows with people of all walks of life. Can you think of a better way to Honor the Graduates 🎓 from this University than by celebrating th history since it’s inception and the unique identity as an Aztec from San Diego State University. I would be interested in hearing the actual reasons why they are offended. I’ve have family that have graduated from SDSU and we are all very grateful that they are Aztecs and proud that we call them Family.

  14. Aztec 2007 on April 21st, 2017 3:54 pm

    I like when people of color DEFEND the use of the mascot don’t “speak for all people of color,” and they’re dismissed. How convenient.

    Has MECHa accomplished anything beyond producing educated adults with victimhood complexes that go around demanding people address their angry feelings?

    International students would give anything to have the privilege of earning a college education, and if given the chance, they would become engineers and scientists, eventually eating the lunch of these “victimhood olympians” while they spend their educational opportunity complaining about everything.

    Before colonialism, native cultures were scalping, killing and sacrificing their enemies. Yet these students have this false, subjective romantic view of the past. I’m sorry bad shit happened in the past, but it happened all over the planet and throughout human history…so why are we wasting time with this “low hanging fruit” social cause, which in the grand scheme, accomplishes nothing to solve social inequality or poverty.

    The world doesn’t owe you anything, grow up.

  15. Mario Class of 2006 on April 21st, 2017 5:08 pm

    As a proud Mexican and proud Aztec this kind of ridiculousness just pisses me off!!!! Not only am I Mexican but I am also part Aztec. I am proud of the Aztec name and love how SDSU embraces the culture. This is nothing more that an example of the pussification of society!!! How about these students quit bitching and focus on more important issues. AZTEC PRIDE!!!!!

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