University Senate resolution will create new SDSU mascot

by Brenden Tuccinardi, Editor in Chief

On Tuesday, May 4, the San Diego State University Senate passed a resolution urging SDSU President Adela de la Torre and the administration to begin the process of changing the university’s mascot. 

The resolution passed 53-9 with 10 abstentions. It calls for the creation of a commission, chaired by the university Tribal Liaison Dr. Jacob Alvarado Waipuk, who is a member of the San Pasqual Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. The commission will work with other Kumeyaay tribal leaders in San Diego and Baja California to propose at least two Kumeyaay-named animals to be the new official mascot of SDSU, according to the language of the resolution. A complete copy of the resolution can be read here)

According to the meeting’s agenda, one alternative mascot name the commission discussed includes “using a Kumeyaay word for a local animal (such as Amu the bighorn sheep)” which would pay greater respect to the Kumeyaay’s culture versus the human representation of the warrior.

In a statement, the university clarified that the resolution will not “replace the Aztec moniker” or name, but rather the Aztec Warrior imagery associated with the school in the past. Currently, the university has no official mascot, and the “Aztec” name is not a mascot, the university said.

The resolution is the latest of many attempts by Indigenous students, faculty and alumni to have their voices heard on the matter of SDSU’s controversial mascot. 

“It’s okay to have uncomfortable conversations. To speak the truth and listen to Indigenous voices,” Waipuk said at Tuesday’s University Senate meeting. “Listen to us, that’s all we’re asking.”

The resolution as passed lays out a timeline for the university to make this change. By Dec. 7, 2021, the commission impaneled by the resolution will deliver its recommendations to the university president, University Senate and Associated Students. A final decision by the president and administration, in consultation with the Senate and A.S., will be made no later than April 5, 2022. 

Skylar Beasly a third-year student and member of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation read the resolution at the Senate meeting. 

“This is a really big moment for Kumeyaay students now and in the future,” Beasly told The Daily Aztec. “There’s nothing that can encourage Kumeyaay students to come to SDSU more than honoring the community in this way.”

The fight to change SDSU’s mascot spans many decades. Most recently in 2017, the University Senate passed a resolution calling on then-President Sally Roush to create a task force to identify ways in which the university could better honor the Native American heritage of the university and the Kumeyaay land on which it stands. The resolution was met with controversy and pushback from current students and alumni, similar to the current response. 

The resolution passed on Tuesday uses much of the same language from the 2017 resolution and argues that the administration failed to follow through with many of the promises it made upon the 2018 release of the Aztec Identity Taskforce’s findings. 

The 2017 resolution called for the retirement of the human representation of the Aztec Warrior, though the resolution passed today claims “the University has not followed through with this resolution given that a student dressed as an “Aztec” warrior led cheers at the SDSU football and basketball games as recently as the 2019-2020 season.”

However, the university has followed through on creating more educational opportunities for community members to learn about Kumeyaay and indigenous heritage. They’ve also created spaces for Indigenous voices on campus by hiring a Tribal Liaison and the creation of the Native Resource Center for indigenous students. 

Indigenous students, faculty and alumni praised the resolution as a step in the right direction to begin to confront centuries of mistreatment of indigenous populations. 

“The resolution proposes a mascot that is based on the choice of the Kumeyaay Elders and community and what we would want it to be in order to make amends for the harm to the indigenous community based on the Aztec mascot, slash moniker,” Beasly said.  “I think that (the resolution) unites the community in choosing and also in inspiring students to come (to SDSU) and be involved.”

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