The Daily Aztec

Despite assurances, university now says Aztec task force members won’t be named

SDSU has decided not to release the names of the members of the Aztec task force, and went so far as to amend a Jan. 17 news release by removing a section saying it would do so.

A+man+portrays+the+Aztec+Warrior+mascot+at+a+sporting+event+in+spring+2017.
A man portrays the Aztec Warrior mascot at a sporting event in spring 2017.

A man portrays the Aztec Warrior mascot at a sporting event in spring 2017.

Kelly Smiley

Kelly Smiley

A man portrays the Aztec Warrior mascot at a sporting event in spring 2017.

by Will Fritz

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San Diego State will not release the identities of the members of the Aztec mascot and moniker task force after all, officials said this week.

In November, the University Senate recommended the creation of a task force to investigate the appropriateness of the Aztec moniker, called for the retirement the human Aztec Warrior mascot and the use of spears or “weapons that connote barbaric representations of the Aztec culture.”

In January, the university began taking applications for the 17-member task force, and said names of the task force members would be announced on Feb. 2.

That day came and went, and at the Feb. 14 Associated Students Campus Life Council meeting, A.S. President Chimezie Ebiriekwe said no names would be released after all.

“This is so that they will have the ability to deliberate without disruption and work effectively,” he said.

A university statement from Jan. 17 was changed to remove the reference to the Feb. 2 announcement date.

Reports in both The Daily Aztec and the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on the Feb. 2 date at the time.

A screenshot of an email the university sent to students linking to an SDSU NewsCenter story about the mascot task force and stating that task force members would be announced Feb. 2. The university has since decided not to release their names.

The task force is set to include four students nominated by the Associated Students Board of Directors, three faculty members and one staff member nominated by faculty and staff, and four alumni nominated by the SDSU Alumni Board of Advisors. President Sally Roush will then select an additional person for each category at her discretion, and appoint two additional at-large members.

SDSU College Republicans President Brandon Jones said he doesn’t like the idea of the task force conducting its business behind closed doors.

“I mean, obviously I would like to see the names of who’s going to be on the task force,” Jones said. “I think it will be very important in deciding the legitimacy of the task force regarding the mascot.”

Victoria Gonzalez-Rivera, an associate professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department and an advocate for changing the mascot, also said the task force needs transparency if they want to appear legitimate.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” she said. “I think it’s very strange. There must be some logic, but I don’t know what the logic is behind this.”

University spokesperson Jill Esterbrooks defended the decision to keep the members’ identities private.

The university president made the decision, she said, “in order for the task force to be effective and make findings without any undue attention and pressure.”

None of the task force’s recommendations will be binding, and at the end of the process, everything will become public, Esterbrooks said.

But by that time, it won’t matter, Jones said.

“If they keep it a secret and then we find out after the fact, after the decision’s been made about what the dynamic, the diversity of who’s on the group, it’s going to be too late,” he said.

SDSU Native American Student Alliance, which has led the fight against the Aztec mascot in recent years, declined to comment on the matter.

Ebiriekwe said it’s ultimately up to the university president and the members of the task force.

“I think it’s a decision of the people who are on the task force if they don’t feel comfortable releasing their names,” he said. “That’s their decision and I feel like we should all respect their wishes.”

Staff Writer Bella Ross also contributed to this story.

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5 Comments

5 Responses to “Despite assurances, university now says Aztec task force members won’t be named”

  1. Concerned on February 19th, 2018 3:20 pm

    What’s there to hide? Let’s hope this derails efforts to drop the Aztec name and the Aztec Warrior mascot because this torpedoes and attempt at legitimacy that the university had to debate this issue. What a crock

  2. Austin Wright on February 19th, 2018 7:33 pm

    Our universtiy administration is full of cowards. I’m deeply disappointed in their eagerness to stoop and pander to whiners over something as silly as a school mascot. It is not a racist symbol. It’s something to be proud of. If anything, our mascot pays homage to the fact that this used to be Mexico.

  3. James Higgins (SDSU Alumni) on February 20th, 2018 4:05 am

    The decision to not only leave the SDSU’s history in the hands of a few people, who will not be named, and to not open the “task force’s” decision to debate until a rending has been made is inherently dishonest. College is supposed to be a time to learn about the world, one’s self, and even hold or participate in spirited debate. The only message this is telling is, the perception of a few, given authority, can dictate the perceptions of many. Maybe I’m incorrect here, but isn’t this contrary to our democratic value system?
    Again, maybe I’m incorrect here and depicting a part of the Aztec Culture is mean. To which I’ll respond, the world is a mean and nasty place. The sooner students are acutely aware of this, the sooner better coping skills are developed and, therefore, more prepared to acclimate to the mean, harsh world they will be.
    Making this change may help a few students and/ or faculty feel better about themselves. But I see this as a great disservice to our students. The Aztec Warrior as the university’s “mascot” is Not a symbol of condescension. The Aztec Warrior symbolizes the University’s and the student’s acknowledgement and reverence for the ferocity of the warriors of the Aztec people.
    I argue that this is not a disagreement on the basis of respect but of perception. If the subjective perception of neither an elected nor named committee is all that is needed to force this outcome, I’m not sure there there’s hope for the rest of us.
    Note: Action and behavior from an institution of ideas is deeply concerning.

  4. Patrick Doyle Class of 92 on February 21st, 2018 8:11 am

    time to bust out the pitch forks!

  5. Crystal Sudano on February 21st, 2018 4:12 pm

    Correction, NASA has NOT led the fight over the “last few years.” NASA took up the fight in Spring 2017. The presented a resolution in Feb 2017, sent it to the Student Diversity Commission where the chair Rachael Muntz claimed she had been Voting on NASA’s behalf prior to the mascot issue coming to the SDC. Furthermore, while it’s on my mind how about the fact the SDC CHARTER hadn’t been renewed until AFTER the mascot resolution had it’s first reading. AND guess what else? Suddenly you can’t get agendas or meeting minutes for the AS commities, commissions, boards without doing a public record request. These things are suppose to be available to students. How much is that yearly AS fee? SDSU administration seems to operate in a bubble. It’s clear to me by the way they treat the Daily Aztec with blatant disrespect and disregard. Students fees, tuition, and all the other “fees” collected from students parents and lets not forget tax payers pay your salaries a little respect for the hands that feed you would be the least you could do.

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