Utah college votes to strip ‘Dixie’ from name
A Utah university on Monday voted to remove “Dixie” from the school’s name over concerns to its ties to the Confederacy and slavery.
Dixie State University’s board of trustees voted unanimously in favor of the name change after a study conducted by a Salt Lake City management consulting firm indicated that some employers across states were troubled by the school’s name when it appeared on graduates’ résumés, The Associated Press reported.
Dixie has historically been used as a term to refer to the region encompassing the states that seceded from the U.S. in the 19th century to form the Confederate States of America.
According to the AP, the independent firm’s study found that about 33 percent of southern Utah residents and 64 percent of people from the university’s recruiting region associated the name Dixie with the Confederacy.
“I don’t know how we justify saying we are an open and inclusive university if we maintain anything that brings up visions of a racist, Confederate history,” Tiffany Wilson, chairwoman of the board of trustees, said at Monday’s meeting, the AP reported.
The trustees’ recommendation was made to the Utah Board of Higher Education and must be approved by the Republican-led state Legislature.
The Utah university has not yet chosen a new name.
The university is located in St. George, roughly 300 miles south of Salt Lake City. According to the AP, the area was nicknamed Dixie when settlers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many of whom had come from the South, sought to make it a center for cotton growth and production in the 1800s.
Proponents of the school’s name argue that the term “Dixie” is separate from the history of slavery and, instead, serves as an integral preservation of the area’s heritage.
The proposed change comes amid a series of efforts across the country to remove monuments and other markers honoring the Confederacy as part of increased calls to combat racial injustice.
“I don’t think it’s wise to kick the can down the road any farther,” trustee and St. George Mayor Jon Pike said, according to the AP. “It’s coming up more frequently now, and I think we need to focus on reality. We can’t assume that the pipeline of students will just continue to flow as it has.”
The proposed name change is the latest in a series of steps taken by the college to reduce its ties to the Confederacy. In 2009, the school’s nickname was changed from “Rebels” to “Red Storm,” and in 2012, a statue of a soldier waving a Confederate flag was removed from the school’s campus.
Other references to the historical pro-slavery South have been dropped by groups in the past year. In June, the music group formerly known as The Dixie Chicks announced they would be dropping “Dixie,” and would instead be known from now on as The Chicks.