San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

SDSU to keep Aztec moniker

Kelly Smiley
The Aztec Warrior mascot – now to be called a “spirit leader” – at a football game in fall 2017.

After several months of deliberation, San Diego State announced it will retain the use of the Aztec moniker but begin to refer to the Aztec mascot as a “spirit leader.”

University President Sally Roush said in an email announcement Thursday that, per the recommendations of a task force which had been looking into the Aztec’s appropriateness as a university symbol, some changes will be made to its use to achieve a “respectful portrayal.”

The university will also retain spear imagery relating to the Aztec, but there will be an additional assessment on whether to add other meaningful symbols, Roush said.

“The status of the Aztec Warrior is, without doubt, the most challenging and difficult decision to have made,” Roush said in the email.

The mascot issue has been an ongoing debate for years. More recently, on April 19, 2017, Associated Students voted against a resolution presented by the Native American Student Alliance to retire its use, saying then it would cost the university millions of dollars to re-brand and potentially alienate alumni.

However, during the fall 2017 semester, an event discussing the appropriation of the mascot was held, resulting in the university senate’s vote on Nov. 7, 2017 in favor of a resolution that would pass on to the university president to re-examine its appropriateness.

In January it was announced that a 17-member task force would be formed to make recommendations on the appropriateness of the Aztec identity. The task force was said to consist of four students, four faculty and staff, four alumni and two members of the SDSU community at large. But after its formation in February 2018, the university came under fire from both sides of the debate for not publicly naming its members.

In April 2018, the union representing most California State University faculty voted to condemn the mascot, days before the task force’s deadline to make a recommendation on its use.

Following her decision, Roush said there were two “essential” recommendations she was implementing immediately.

The first is the creation of a governing authority whose purpose is to oversee university funds to cover costs of courses, activities and other educational projects that relate to the learning of the Aztec culture.

The second is the creation of the Aztec Culture Education Committee, which, according to the email, will include members of the SDSU community as well as members of local Native American tribes. Its purpose will be to recommend ways in which the school can incorporate local tribes into university events.

“We are committed to building bridges,” Roush said in her email.

Roush added that effective immediately, the use of nicknames “Monty” or “Zuma” will be deemed inappropriate, especially during university awards and recognitions.

According to the statement, President-designate Adela de la Torre was made aware of the decision.

University spokesperson Christine Hutchins said via email that de la Torre was out of the country and unavailable for comment. However, de la Torre issued her own official statement in support of Roush and her decision.

“… I fully support the final decision and statement made by President Roush and look forward to working closely with on and off-campus communities regarding the respectful treatment and historic accuracy of the Aztec identity and Aztec Warrior, including the commitment to culturally appropriate education,” de la Torre said in a statement.

About the Contributors
David Santillan, Assistant News Editor
  David is a senior at San Diego State where he is majoring in French. David has been working at The Daily Aztec since 2017 and is the current Assistant News Editor. He is a transfer student from Palomar College, where he worked as an arts & culture writer for The Telescope, Palomar's on-campus newspaper.
Kelly Smiley, Photo Editor
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SDSU to keep Aztec moniker