SDSU to keep controversial ‘Aztec’ name
SAN DIEGO — San Diego State University will keep the name “Aztecs” — and the “Aztec Warrior” will still appear at university events — amid questions about whether the moniker and mascot are culturally insensitive.
The school’s interim President Sally Roush announced the decision Thursday.
“One consistent, overarching message was conveyed in a loud and clear voice: Respect, genuinely intended and executed, must be the foundation of our actions going forward,” Roush said at a special meeting of the University Senate where she shared the decision.
To that end, Roush said that the school’s familiar Aztec Warrior will no longer serve as a “mascot” but as a “spirit leader.”
“We just expect a much more dignified and appropriate demeanor from that person,” Roush told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “You won’t see the Aztec Warrior doing pushups in the endzone. You won’t see the Aztec Warrior dancing with the cheerleaders.”
The school used a 17-member task force made up of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to help determine whether to keep the nickname, after backlash from those who felt that using the Mesoamerican culture as a school moniker was culturally insensitive. But in surveys sent to more than 200,000 university students, alumni and members of the public, a majority of the responses favored keeping the name.
Roush said that, going forward, SDSU will “strengthen ties with local indigenous groups while embracing and teaching positive elements about what is known about the Aztec Empire and its people.”