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Associated Students rejects Aztec mascot resolution

Following the A.S. University Council’s decision, 10 A.S. members resigned from their positions.

Andrew Dyer, Opinion Editor

Andrew Dyer, Opinion Editor

by Jasmine Bermudez and Will Fritz

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The Associated Students University Council rejected a resolution to retire the Aztec mascot and moniker at a meeting in council chambers April 19.

The council voted 14-12 to keep the mascot, with one abstention.

Council members met at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, but voting was delayed for nearly four hours by discussion and two votes to amend parts of the resolution regarding the inadvertent use of “redface.”

The four voting members of the A.S. executive board, President Jamie Miller, Executive Vice President Patty Masengale, Vice President of External Relations Dylan Colliflower and Vice President of Financial Affairs Alex Shapiro, all voted against the resolution.

College of Business Representative Ben Delbick, who voted against the resolution, said changing the mascot would be financially difficult, as it would become necessary to replace millions of dollars worth of Aztec-branded equipment and merchandise.

He also said during the meeting that changing the mascot would alienate alumni and make many of them likely to pull donations.

“One of the things that makes the Aztec name great is the fact that we have a very unique brand and our identity as a university, nationally, is built very strongly upon that,” he said.

Ozzie Monge, a lecturer at SDSU whose master’s thesis discussed the history of the Aztec mascot and supported retiring it, said while the vote is a huge improvement from 2014 — when the council voted overwhelmingly to keep the Aztec warrior — there is work to be done.

He compared the failed mascot resolution to a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, which the University Council approved April 12.

“It’s disappointing to see that there’s some inconsistency in who gets valued, and whose rights get valued,” Monge said. “But that’s not surprising because we’re dealing with something that has been commonly believed in for so long, without question.”

He also compared the resolution vote to asking white southerners for a referendum on ending Jim Crow laws in the 1960s. Such a referendum would likely have failed, but that would not have made the decision just, he said.

“That’s why the talk of majorities and numbers is wrong,” Monge said. “The debate should have been principles and values. And none of that came up.”

He said he will continue his opposition to the use of the Aztec mascot.

“I’ll still be here,” he said. “I’ll still be educating. We’ll do it again.”

Victor Uwakwe, a College of Health and Human Services representative, said while he personally felt San Diego State’s mascot should remain the Aztec warrior, he decided to vote in favor of the resolution.

“I felt like I couldn’t sit by and do nothing,” he said.

College of Arts and Letters representative Nick Elliott said he made the decision to vote yes after taking a poll of his college’s organizations and their representatives regarding their opinions on the mascot.

“On a personal level, if I were voting with my heart, I would have abstained,” Elliott said. “I think there’s more discussion to be had with the language of the resolution.”

Elliott also said he was conflicted because the Native American Student Alliance is housed under his college.

“I feel that —not necessarily an obligation, but I feel like I have a responsibility and a role to play in advocating for them,” he said.

College of Engineering Representative Dan Rubert said he abstained from voting because he was unable to reconcile his personal issues with both sides of the debate.

“I came in with an open mind willing to hear both sides and I felt as if they both had strong arguments and I personally had issues with each (position),” he said. “I would completely agree with the argument that I should have taken a stance but I also agree that sometimes a neutral setting is applicable.”

Vice President of External Relations Dylan Colliflower said he voted to keep the mascot and moniker because having the mascot will continue discussions regarding indigenous people.

“We can be a bastion for understanding indigenous issues and pushing education rather than just erasing it,” he said. “Getting rid of the mascot would not get rid of the racism of the past.”

Executive Vice President Patty Masengale, who voted against the resolution, declined to comment on her vote and said she has not commented on anything related to the mascot all year.

Following the A.S. University Council’s decision, 10 A.S. members resigned from their positions.

A.S. members Gass Hersi, Samantha Ledesma, Asha Abdirahim, Ozair Purmul, Chloe Sension, Mustafa Alemi, Halima Eid, Brie Hornig, Farris Nabulsi, and Arnelle Sambile stepped down from their positions immediately after the vote.

Alemi said he resigned because he does not believe A.S. supports students of color the way it supports other students.

“I want people to just own it,” he said. “Just say you don’t want to change the mascot, (you) don’t give a damn if it’s racist. Don’t try and cloud it as if they’re making some moral decision or some ethical decision.”

Vice President of Financial Affairs Alex Shapiro said he took issue with the fact that the 10 resignations all took place before a resolution on expanding the campus food pantry took place later that evening.

“It would have been respectful to stay for that vote,” Shapiro said.  

Colliflower said it is unfortunate that the 10 students felt it was necessary to resign.

“Especially since there is a Board of Directors meeting where we are supposed to be discussing the resolution again,” he said. “There is other ways to advocate for the issues.”

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7 Comments

7 Responses to “Associated Students rejects Aztec mascot resolution”

  1. Stewart Teaze '83 on April 20th, 2017 11:55 am

    Go Aztecs! 14-0 in ’17!
    One City, One Team.

    … BTW; for those trying to change the SDSU mascot; I’d like to recommend “The Sniveling Snowflakes” as your “special” and more appropriate new mascot name.

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  2. John McCready, SDSU Alum, Class of 1985 on April 20th, 2017 1:46 pm

    Had the “Aztec” been rejected by the A.S. yesterday, I would be BURNING MY SDSU DEGREE TODAY! It is heartbreaking enough what the A.S. did in the reconstruction of the Student Union (and naming it after a billionaire who WAS NOT EVEN AN AZTEC IS A PATHETIC INSULT!). Political correctness is running amuck at SDSU, and to remove something which students should see as a source of PRIDE, and NOT “cultural insensitivity”, is an insult to all of us who actually are proud to be AZTEC Alumni!

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  3. John McGrory on April 20th, 2017 7:25 pm

    To the resigning A.S. members Gass Hersi, Samantha Ledesma, Asha Abdirahim, Ozair Purmul, Chloe Sension, Mustafa Alemi, Halima Eid, Brie Hornig, Farris Nabulsi, and Arnelle Sambile – please feel free to transfer and graduate from a different school. Resigning after you lose an important vote is embarrassing to you, the university and your family! What are you going to do when you don’t get your way in the ‘REAL WORLD’? Quit?

    It’s truly embarrassing for me, and many other alumni, to find out that the snowflake mentality which has infected our young people is flourishing at SDSU. If you don’t like the AZTEC nickname, please feel free to choose another college to attend…there are 4,140 or so colleges in the United States – and 4,139 are NOT named the AZTECS!!

    As for me – I AM AN AZTEC FOR LIFE!!

    John McGrory
    AZTEC FOR LIFE
    Class of 1988

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  4. Doug Fischer on April 20th, 2017 11:19 pm

    Class of 1969 and 1971. This fight over a college mascot’s name is an obsurb waste of time and financial resourses where a small minority of individuals is trying to create an issue out of a non-issue and jam it down the majority. The mascot depicts a representative from a strong and proud culture. If there is anyone that can trace their family roots back to the great Aztec culture of the 1500’s, they should feel pride that a great American University selected their ancestors to be its mascot.

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  5. Spencer Williams on April 21st, 2017 1:33 pm

    Ozzie Monge is a one trick pony – an activist whose only goal is to remove the Aztec warrior mascot. That was his masters thesis, the subject of the class he teaches and his life’s goal. And NASA, whose website is down and has three members, have appropriated the Aztec culture by supposedly speaking on their behalf. Ozzie needs to move on, and the Aztec Warrior is staying.

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  6. Preston Young on April 21st, 2017 6:21 pm

    The Aztec Mascot has been the school mascot since the beginning. It has historical value to SDSU it identifies with the school. If people don’t like it, then they should transfer. There are thousands of Alumni that passed thru this institution and want SDSU to keep it.

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  7. Joel Anderson on April 24th, 2017 10:27 am

    So were the Aztecs a people or ethnic group rather than a political entity? That is up for debate and interpretation. Certainly there is no Aztec civilization remaining except for the history, art, culture and architecture they left behind. The small group of people who want to kill our school mascot will say that the Aztecs are not extinct. They will say they are part of the group of people in Central Mexico who speak Nahuatl and have largely transformed into modern Mexicans.

    Certainly there are no “full blood” Aztecs alive today. I can see the POV of some students (primarily this SDSU professor, Ozzie Monge, who is planting the seed in the young malleable minds of his students) that the origins of the SDSU Aztec mascot were racist and discriminatory and some may see it as representing Aztecs as “savages.” I personally don’t feel that way about SDSU’s current representation of the Aztec Warrior. I see our Aztec Warrior as a great representation of the strength, economy and religion of the Aztec culture. Interestingly, warfare and warriors were a driving force in everyday life in Aztec culture as it related to politics, economy and religion. In fact, several parallels can be drawn between warfare/warriors and sports/athletes. So, from my POV our Aztec Warrior is a perfect mascot for SDSU and represents a large part of Aztec culture very well.

    In addition, our Aztec Warrior is a unifying symbol at SDSU sporting events for all fans, students, alumni and members of the San Diego community regardless of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Our Aztec Warrior mascot has served this role since 1924.

    I see no difference between the “Aztecs” vs. other mascots such as “Spartans”, “Seminoles”, “Utes”, “Irish”, “Fighting Illini”, “Chippewas”, “Trojans” the list goes on. One primary difference is the Aztecs are technically extinct and are not even a Native American tribe.

    Don’t allow the voice of a small group of entitled people with no direct connection to Aztec ancestry attempt to change the rich history and culture of San Diego State University. If masses of Nahuatl people from Central Mexico come to San Diego California and protest our use of the Aztec Warrior as our university mascot then we can have a real debate about this. Until then this is all just white noise.

    Go AZTECS!!!!!!!

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