A forceful presence at any San Diego State football and basketball games, the human depiction of the Aztec Warrior may come to an end soon.
The University Senate, consisted of faculty, staff, administrators and one coach, on Tuesday voted 52-15 for a non-binding resolution to retire the human depiction of the school’s mascot and to explore the issue associated with the mascot. The Aztec has been the school’s mascot since 1924.
Prior to the Aztec Warrior, Monty Montezuma was the school’s mascot but was retired in 2003 because its depiction was considered racist. While the current mascot is more historically correct, the controversy over having non-Native Americans depicting the character persists.
In recent years, many schools and teams have dropped Native American mascots because their depictions were considered insensitive and racist. In 1994, Marquette changed its team mascot from the Warriors to the Golden Eagles. Miami (Ohio) changed its athletic teams’ name from the Redskins to the Chieftains in 1996.
The controversy is not limited to college sports. Both the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians have been criticized for their continued use of Native American mascots that are seen as culturally insensitive.
The resolution now moves to interim university President Sally Roush for consideration. Roush can approve, reject or table to resolution for her successor to consider. In a statement released Wednesday, SDSU said it committed to the shared governance process, “of which the University Senate is a part.”
“There can be no question that all viewpoints regarding SDSU’s Aztec identity have a right to be respectfully heard and carefully considered,” the statement read. “This resolution provides an opportunity for dialogue to continue among all stakeholders in the SDSU community — including faculty, students, staff, and alumni.”
Some SDSU alumni have already balked at changing the school’s mascot.
“Why does this keep coming up? The Aztec is portrayed as a proud warrior. There is nothing politically incorrect with this representation,” Teresita Wilborn commented on Facebook.
“Until this moment I was proud of being an Aztec. The PC senate just proved how spineless they are,” Catherine Janofsky posted on Facebook.
“Unlike monikers like ‘Wildcats’ or ‘Bears’ there is only one school that comes to mind when you hear ‘Aztecs.’ This is such a strong and apropos name considering our proximity to Mexico and the long history of the association with San Diego State,” Chris Rogers said on Facebook.
Senate Chair Marcie Bober-Michel, a professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies told the Daily Aztec, the school’s student newspaper, she does not expect the resolution to be approved by Roush, but it is a start to a meaningful discussion on the issue.