Letter: Is retiring the Aztec Warrior worth the financial cost?

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The CSU system is involved in a budget crisis. Governor Jerry Brown’s 2019 budget provides $92 million in funding, which is only a third of what the CSU Trustees requested. Possible solutions to offset the lack of state funds include raising tuition, reducing programs and services or cutting acceptance rates to CSU schools. The Los Angeles Times recently reported the CSU system has already turned away 32,000 applicants and CSU Trustees are considering a tuition proposal that would raise in-state tuition another $228 annually.

Fortunately, San Diego State raised $800 million in private donations from 2007 to 2017. The funding currently supports scholarships, endowed professorships, academic programs, new campus buildings, research and athletics. “Private giving will continue to be the bedrock of SDSU’s ambitions to advance academic excellence, hire and retain top-tier faculty, and develop its research agenda,” said Mary Ruth Carleton, Vice President for University Relations and Development, according to the SDSU NewsCenter.

With California state budget providing such limited funds to the CSU system, private donations will take an even greater role in SDSU’s continued advancement of academic excellence.

And that takes us directly to the Aztec warrior and moniker debate. Nearly half of the $800 million donated came from alumni, a group that strongly supports the Aztec Warrior and Moniker. With the retirement or removal of either, one can safely assume alumni donations will diminish.

While engaging in debates about the power of the alumni and whether or not they deserve to be involved in this important decision, Facebook responses have told me to “Shut up and give us your check,” and “Just give us money and shut the hell up.” I tried to explain to the individuals, both being students, that this is not how the world works. SDSU President Roush, working with the SDSU Senate, the newly elected AS and/or the anonymous task force, can decide to retire the Aztec Warrior or remove the moniker. However, I  — as well as thousands of others — can decide to stop donating to SDSU.

Some may not like this viewpoint, but I am simply being pragmatic. One would be crazy to think that SDSU would raise another $800 million between 2018 and 2028 with the removal of either the Aztec Warrior or the mascot.

I hope the office of the president, SDSU Senate, newly elected AS and the anonymous task force can see the bigger picture. During a time of such fiscal constraints, it is imperative that they do.

Zach Pellonari is a class of 2003 San Diego State alumnus.

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