Students attempt to annihilate Aztec mascot

A task force at San Diego State University (SDSU) led by the Native American Student Alliance (NASA) made another attempt last week to suspend the use of the Aztec mascot.

This is the second time in just over six months that NASA has submitted a resolution to the Associate Students Student Government demanding the retirement of the Aztec mascot.

On November 7, SDSU Senate members voted to pass a two-part resolution demanding the university retire all human representations of the Aztec Warrior and accompanying symbols. Additionally, the Senate demanded the establishment of a task force to explore issues associated with the use of the Aztec moniker, and the creation of an educational component to be offered through the Associated Students and Division of Student Affairs.

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In 2005, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) adopted a policy prohibiting NCAA colleges and universities from displaying hostile and abusive racial, ethnic, or national origin mascots, nicknames, or imagery at any of the 88 NCAA championships.

“The NCAA objects to institutions using racial/ethnic/national origin references in their intercollegiate athletics programs,” said then-NCAA President Myles Brand. "Several institutions have made changes that adhere to the core values of the NCAA Constitution pertaining to cultural diversity, ethical sportsmanship and nondiscrimination. We applaud that, and we will continue to monitor these institutions and others.”

SDSU, however, was not one of the 18 universities that the NCAA identified as using Native American imagery or references. The SDSU Student Diversity Commission claimed that then-SDSU President Stephen Weber avoided the ban by being intellectually dishonest when he wrote in a letter that “the Aztecs are not a Native American or American Indian culture…however, the Aztecs are central to the cultural heritage of Mexico.”

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The most recent resolution, drafted by NASA and the University’s Student Diversity Commission, comes in response to the original resolution submitted in April, which failed on a 14-12 vote

“Let it be resolved, that San Diego State University immediately acknowledge the history behind its institutional identity, how it was shaped by white supremacy and racism, that Mexico is on the continent of North America and so Aztecs are native Americans,” the resolution reads.

“San Diego State University and all its auxiliary and affiliated organizations will put an end, ‘with all deliberate speed,’ to the intellectual dishonesty of historical inaccuracy and cultural misappropriation of the Aztec civilization and culture through ceasing the use of the term ‘Aztec’ in any and all future naming, promotional materials, events and efforts henceforth; and that the ‘Aztec Warrior’ mascot and moniker be authentically and immediately retired,” the resolution continues.  

The new resolution has not been posted on the Associated Students Student Government website, but differs from the original resolution in that if passed it would prohibit a student from dressing up in traditional Aztec attire and interacting in the pre-game festivities.

The resolution proposed in April of this year, on the other hand, aimed at retiring all uses of the Aztec mascot including logos, references, and all forms of marketing by SDSU.

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Yet other students take pride in the Aztec Mascot, such as Hannah Morgan, who says that the Aztec Mascot is an integral part of sporting events on campus and electrifies the crowd.

“When you go to a football game or basketball game and the Aztec Mascot leads the team out onto the field he really brings the crowd to life” Morgan remarked. “I am proud to go to a school that honors our mascot the way SDSU honors the Aztec.”

The university said in its statement regarding the resolution that a final decision will be made by the president of SDSU, but it is unclear if Interim-President Sally Roush will address the matter.

Campus Reform reached out to the Native American Student Alliance for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @brandonj96