Aztec warrior
The Aztec Warrior cheers moments before a game in 2014. Photo by Seth Sanchez/Icon Sportswire

San Diego State University President Sally Roush announced Thursday that she has decided to keep the university’s Aztec moniker and iconic Aztec Warrior, but the latter would be a “spirit leader” instead of a mascot.

“The use of the Aztec moniker will continue. It is a source of pride for the collective majority of those who responded to the surveys or volunteered their views,” she said in a letter to the SDSU community.

“The Aztec Warrior, similarly a source of pride for the collective majority, will be retained, but as spirit leader, not mascot,” she said, adding that there would be “immediate and visible changes in demeanor to achieve a respectful portrayal of a powerful figure from Aztec culture.”

Roush said that in continuing to use the Aztec name and warrior symbolism, the university will “embrace and teach positive elements” of the ancient Mexican civilization.

She also promised to rename the university’s awards to avoid the use of “Monty” and “Zuma” nicknames, which she deemed inappropriate.

The university president was responding to a faculty senate resolution from last November that sought to eliminate the Aztec warrior. She formed a 17-member task force to study the situation.

Roush noted that 13,000 students and alumni responded to a survey with opinions covering the spectrum from complete elimination of both to no change.

Following the decision, the university will set up a governing authority with a full-time curator to avoid unintentional disrespect in the use of Aztec symbolism.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.