Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, announced this week that it is considering changing its name in response to a petition by local citizens. The petition claims that the word “Dixie” is offensive due to its ties to the southern states in the Confederacy. According to the university, the word Dixie “represents the rich pioneering heritage of sacrifice, determination and generosity of our early settlers.”
According to a report by Campus Reform, Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, may change their name in response to a petition that argues that the word “Dixie” is offensive.
The petition, which calls on locals to “stop using the word ‘Dixie’ in reference to St. George, Utah,” has received nearly 2,000 signatures at the time of this writing. The petition claims that the word “Dixie” has a controversial history in St. George even though it was not initially used as a direct reference to the Confederacy.
“Though the initial reference to St. George as Dixie may not have been directly connected to the confederacy, the surge of racial epithets gained steam throughout the community during the 1950’s and 60’s as part of an anti-civil rights and anti-integration movement,” the petition reads.
In a statement, Dixie State University argued that the word “Dixie” represents the history and culture of the region. However, the university noted that the word holds “negative connotations” for some.
There is a widely embraced, local sentiment toward the word Dixie that represents the rich pioneering heritage of sacrifice, determination and generosity of our early settlers. The unwavering dedication of our founders and community paved the way to make Dixie State the flourishing University it is today. We respect the regional meaning of Dixie adopted by many, describing the local heritage and honoring the men and women who settled the beautiful St. George area. Additionally, we understand that to many others, the term Dixie stirs negative connotations associated with discrimination and intolerance.
The university ultimately claimed that they are monitoring the petition and evaluating options that may include a change to the university’s name.
In that spirit, DSU is closely monitoring this situation, actively gathering information and assessing all viable options to ensure our campus is a welcoming environment for all. Despite current media coverage, there is no formal process in place to change the Dixie State University name at this time. The power to rename an institution ultimately lies with the Utah State Legislature, which would receive input from the Utah System of Higher Education. With our strong relationships among state leaders and community partners, we will continue to provide all pertinent information we can on the topic.
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