ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – Republican representatives are proposing a name change for Dixie State University at the footsteps of the State Legislature, Monday.
Sponsored by Rep. Kelly Miles, R-Ogden, House Bill 278, would further the rebranding of the southwestern Utah university.
On February 1, GOP members would like to work with the times and represent the school in its actual light.
The push for the bill comes from the connotations associated with the word ‘Dixie’; the school receiving many years of controversial comments in regards to endorsing the south and the confederacy.
Just recently, the university held a discussion panel focusing primarily on the rebrand.
For decades, Dixie State University was known as the rebels. The university had the confederate flag on campus, there were slave auctions during homecoming, and their yearbook was titled ‘The Confederate.’
“We did have sayings in those yearbooks like every southerner needs a slave and different things that are pretty hard to swallow in today’s environment,” says DSU President Richard Williams in an exclusive interview with ABC4.
President Williams says it is hard to overcome the university’s past while trying to build an inclusive environment by today’s standards.
“When they hear about the cotton mission, they are really enthused and are excited about that definition, but when they see some of the things that we did under that confederate ideology, that just doesn’t make sense,” he says. “We are growing out of the regional moniker anyways, and so we are growing up as a University. We probably need a name that’s more robust, that really fits our academic mission.”
The President adds, “And for us to say, we have 4,000 graduates, 22% are going to have a problem, and 50% of you are not even going to be able to wear a shirt, that’s problematic.”
To add salt to the wound, the president says the accomplishments students and staff completed are not being recognized nationally.
When asked if the president supports the name change he told us, “Yes, absolutely, 100%. We took six months, allowed the study to flush out, I didn’t want to make a decision until I saw the data, but after I saw the data it’s clear it’s hurting students. So, yes I’m 100% behind it.”
The bill is expected to face mixed reactions on Utah’s Capitol Hill.