Possible Apology From Dixie State For Confederate Ties
(KUTV) Dixie State College is considering a formal apology for past racially insensitive campus traditions, according to the college’s spokesperson.
“Yes, there are some things in our history that we wish weren’t there,” said Dixie State College spokesperson Steve Johnson. “It was a different mindset and different time back then.”
The possible apology comes as the school prepares to announce its new name as part of the transition to a university.
A heated debate over whether to keep the word “Dixie” in the institution’s name has brought former campus events such as celebrating the Confederate flag, students dressed in Blackface and mock slave auctions to the forefront.
“This process has made us more aware of what the public sentiment was,” Johnson said. “If an apology is warranted in the process of being able to heal from that and move forward then we will definitely look at doing something like that.”
Dixie State psychology assistant professor Dannelle Larsen-Rife, Ph.D., started the Southern Utah Anti-Discrimination Coalition to call on the school to change its name and fight what she sees as a racist past.
“Disbelief, shock, horror,” said Larsen-rife of her reactions to pictures in the college’s yearbook. “In a way it seems like the college reacted to the civil rights movement with these horrific displays.”
Pictures published in Dixie State’s “Confederate” yearbook from the 60’s and 70’s show students in Blackface makeup, parade floats depicting slaves pushing a plow while a white man stands watch, and page after page of the Confederate flag.
“Those images have no place in today’s society, we understand that,” Johnson said. “The Confederate identity, the way it was portrayed 30, 40, 50 years ago are things that we are going to have to acknowledge.”
But Larsen-Rife says the racially insensitive pictures appear as late as the 1990’s and that problems persist on campus today.
“Students appeared in Blackface on this campus just last semester,” Larsen-Rife said. “They’ve made it very clear that if you’re an outsider you’re not welcome.”
Dixie State’s Board of Trustees is set to vote and announce the new name next Friday. Larsen-Rife hopes an apology is announced as well.
“I think that we need to address the racism issue,” Larsen-Rife said, adding that dropping “Dixie” from the school’s name should be the first step.
“’Dixie’ is a wonderful nickname for the community,” she said. “But I think the official name should be University of St. George Utah which really is a more prestigious name and is appropriate.”
Johnson says the college has taken huge moves over the last 20 years to get rid of the Confederate ties, including changing the mascots and names for the athletic teams.
“It should be a time celebration, it should be a time for rejoicing,” Johnson said of the transition to a university. “We didn’t anticipate that the fervor and the vitriol would be escalated to this point.”
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)