From faithful playgoers at Pioneer Theatre to the hordes of fans squeezing themselves into Rice-Eccles Stadium, students at the U are more than familiar with school pride. We might recognize there’s more to the U than its name, but for the students and alumni at Dixie State College, what their school’s name connotes is precisely the problem.
Dixie State College is finally gaining status as a university after a 60-percent increase in enrolling students in the last five years, according to the college’s website. With this new identity comes an appraisal of the school name, one whose associations don’t spread the most positive message. The name comes with negative connotations and should be changed.
The word “Dixie” was used as a term for the Southeastern region of the United States and holds strong ties to the Confederacy, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Many students have protested to these ties as well as to other elements of the school, such as statues of Confederate soldiers on campus and the fact that for many years the school yearbook was titled “The Confederate,” journalist Ben Winslow said.
Because of this, Dixie State has prepared a survey in the search of a new name that will “honor and communicate the heritage, history and traditions of our institution,” in the words of college president Stephen Nadauld.
Despite the fact the institution’s name has been modified six times in the course of its history, students are worried this most recent change will come with consequences. Among these are a fear of changes in admission standards, state funding, tuition and financial aid as well as changes in the athletic division.
The school alumni also fear their school degrees will no longer be valid if the name of the college is different from that on their diplomas, but the school website promises new diplomas upon request and addresses each of the students’ concerns. This announcement confirms a name change wouldn’t increase the students’ fees or affect the qualifications of alumni.
An overwhelming amount of voters still intend to keep the word “Dixie” in the school’s title, despite its racially charged undertones, according to Dixie Press Online. Many voters believe the word “dixie” is understood locally not to be derogative, but the fact they are comfortable learning and interacting with others under such a name is absurd.
Although the locals might understand the students of Dixie State don’t mean to perpetuate racist ideals, the continued usage of the word “dixie” in the school’s title is bound to cause problems when it comes to out-of-state recruiting and interaction with schools on a national level.
Students might argue their school wouldn’t be the same if “Dixie” is removed, but certain standards are going to change because of the college’s new status as a university, regardless of a new name.
School pride might be important, but a university’s name will color every possible achievement regardless of its historical ties. The future title of Dixie State is still unknown, but one can only hope its students will remember the history behind the name says, and means, a lot.