San Diego State University keeping Aztec name, will make changes to Aztec warrior

Posted at 1:11 PM, May 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-17 21:03:36-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – The Aztec name and warrior mascot will remain a part of San Diego State University, according to the university’s president.

SDSU President Sally Roush announced Thursday that after considering a university task force’s recommendation on the issue, “the use of the Aztec moniker will continue” and the Aztec warrior would be retained.

Roush said, “’Aztec’ will continue to be the name we associate with our university. We will, however, make changes to honor the Aztec culture, relying on our considerable capacity to create and deliver appropriate programmatic and educational material. Most importantly, we will focus on and correct the longstanding ‘lack of engagement with other indigenous groups locally and with the history of the Aztec Empire.’”

She added, “The Aztec Warrior, similarly a source of pride for the collective majority, will be retained, but as Spirit Leader, not mascot. There will be immediate and visible changes in demeanor to achieve a respectful portrayal of a powerful figure from Aztec culture. We will undertake an effort to assess whether to add other meaningful symbols, marks or representations, including historically accurate animal symbols that capture the intellectual sophistication, power and bravery of the Aztec civilization.”

Roush also said the use of the nicknames "Monty" and "Zuma" will be eliminated.

As part of her decision, Roush called for:

-- Education
-- Governing body to ensure ethical, moral and fiduciary responsibility of carrying the Aztec name
-- Meaningful engagement with Native American and indigenous communities of the U.S. and Mexico
-- Appropriate signage and symbolic representation of the Aztec Empire and contemporary Nahua people across the campus
-- Respectful and correct use of the Nahuatl language, especially in the invocation of such in awards and other forms of recognition
-- Stricter guidelines for mascot – now Spirit Leader – representation, monitoring and enforcement of said guidelines

Roush said, "I have spoken to incoming President [Adela] de la Torre, who is aware of the decision-making process that was followed and has read the task force report and its appendices. She asked me to convey that she respects the process. She accepts the decisions I have made. She is committed to ensuring the Aztec name and representations are treated with the care and the respect they deserve."
The 17-member task force was formed earlier this year, and it included students, school staff members, alumni and community members.

The task force gave 200,000 constituents a survey on the issue; nearly 13,000 people responded to the survey. Roush said more than 6,000 people provided their viewpoint on the issue, with a majority in favor of keeping the Aztec name and warrior mascot.

In November 2017, the school's senate voted in favor of a resolution to retire the mascot and references to spears. The action spurred the formation of the task force in January.

Several months before, however, the school's Associated Student Council rejected a resolution that would have phased out the Aztec mascot.

Students at the university have criticized the mascot in the past because some find it offensive and call it cultural appropriation.