SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – San Diego State University’s senate, made up of faculty members, is pushing to make a big change on campus after it passed a resolution to retire the Aztec warrior mascot.
The university government body also formed a task force to investigate the appropriateness of the name, but now the decision is in the hands of the university president.
Supporters called SDSU’s mascot a proud tradition that should stay, but opponents said it is racists and needs to end.
“The NCAA, the American Psychological Association and numerous bodies throughout the country have pointed to all the racist history of these types of mascots as well as the impact it has on current native students,” said Roberto Hernandez, SDSU associate professor and member of the Diversity, Equity and Outreach Committee.
Hernandez helped frame the resolution passed by the university senate Tuesday to retire the Aztec warrior mascot.
The resolution is non-binding. All it does is send a recommendation to the university’s president.
“This is actually, historically, territory of the Kumeyaay Nation. That is not to say we should be the San Diego State Kumeyaays – we’d be repeating the problem,” said Hernandez.
Carlos Gutierrez proudly served as SDSU’s human warrior for more than a decade. He said critics do not understand what the Aztec warrior represents. He said critics do not understand what the Aztec warrior represents.
“They are calling this racist. This is not racist. It’s humanistic. We have a human representative as a warrior representing SDSU. Representing sport. Representing one of the top universities in academia,” he said.
Gutierrez said he traveled to Mexico to better understand Aztec culture - to make sure he was honoring their tradition.
He said he will gladly pay for future warriors to go to Mexico City to do the same thing.
He also thinks the university should do more to educate all students so they understand what's behind the Aztec name.
SDSU’s interim president, Sally Roush, did not say if she will accept the resolution, but a spokesperson in a statement to News 8 said in part:
“This resolution proves an opportunity for dialogue to continue among all stakeholders in the SDSU community – including faculty, students, staff and alumni.”