Silent vigil focuses on Dixie State name change; STGnews videocast

Dixie State College students hold vigil in protest of Dixie name
Students and community members gathered in a silent vigil for the Dixie State College name change, St. George, Utah, Dec. 13, 2012 | Photo by Serafina Amodt, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A small group of community members and college students gathered across the street from the former location of the Confederate statue at Dixie State College for a silent vigil Thursday night.

In a prepared statement, Susan Ertel, a professor at DSC and the organizer of the vigil, said: “… We are united tonight in looking toward the college and the bright future it holds under a new name that is inclusive to and welcoming to all. We are silent to promote togetherness as the college makes this very difficult transition.”

Ertel continued: “Changing the college’s name is not a denial of tradition. It is a decision not to let tradition and heritage handcuff the future of the college, its students, or the community it serves.”

Between 16 and 20 gathered at the corner of 700 East and 500 South across from the DSC Avenna Center and entered into the silent vigil from 5:30 to 6 p.m.

Ertel added she and the others at the vigil were acting as private citizens and not serving in any official capacity.

For those who worry that removing Dixie from the college may have a negative effect on similarly named businesses and institutions, Ertel said the group was primarily focused on the college and weren’t asking other entities to change their names.

“The college has to compete on an international level,” she said. “We want the name of the college to reflect the inclusiveness and wonderful spirit that we have in this community.”

Videocast from the silent vigil across from Dixie State College 

(Story continues below)

Videocast by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News

Wendy Worthington, a DSC student, said the college needed to change its name because, as a university, it was being turned into “a bigger playground.”

“I think we need to realize the name Dixie just doesn’t fit into the future of the college,” Worthington said. If the college wants to remain the most popular college in St. George, she said, than keep the name. If it wants to be successful outside of the community and draw a wider audience, it needs a new name.

Another student, Hamod Abdullah, said the college’s name holds negative connotations for him. “It means bondage,” he said. “It means oppression.”

He said he understands and appreciates the value members of the community place on the local heritage connected to the college name, but added, “There’s another side to the name,”

The Dixie State College Board of Trustees is expected to vote on a possible name change on Jan. 18, 2013.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

Dixie State College students hold vigil in protest of Dixie name
Students and community members gathered in a silent vigil for the Dixie State College name change, St. George, Utah, Dec. 13, 2012 | Photo by Serafina Amodt, St. George News


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  • Shante Jenkins December 14, 2012 at 2:08 am

    This is a joke now!! This school is a joke!!

  • Jade December 14, 2012 at 2:54 am

    Great story with legit points from the other perspective of the community. It goes to show that even locals have opposing views regarding ‘Dixie’, not just out-of-area students/citizens like many residents believe.

    • ken December 14, 2012 at 7:31 am

      Did you even read the article Jade? This article doesn’t show anything from locals at all!!!

      • Wendy Worthington December 17, 2012 at 8:09 am

        I was interviewed for this article and I am a local. I grew up in this area and after a decade long departure returned here to raise my son. So yes locals were interviewed for this article.

  • Jared Jentzsch December 14, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Shed the symbols of bigotry and separatism so that all may be part of the community. And while you are at it, get rid of the ‘D’ on the side of the mountain. Replace it with one of those statues you have all over the place. Perhaps the Saint named George the city was named for?

  • 375ultra December 14, 2012 at 7:34 am

    All the ulumni that donated to the collage in the past need to file a law suit and sue the school and recieve all their money back.

  • Ron December 14, 2012 at 7:53 am

    I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but I can tell you that when I point out “Dixie” State College to my out-of-town guests, I get a bemused “Dixie??” usually accompanied by snickering, Snobbish? Maybe, but why burden students at our local university with a name that conveys no sense of prestige or class except to locals? As the students interviewed for this article point out, there is no need to erase the name “Dixie” from the larger community. But there are good reasons for finding another name for the college about to become a university.

    • juse December 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      I bet that never has happened.

      If it really has, I bet the bemused “Dixie??” is only because of location and not because they think it is racist or oppressive or an ill name.
      Care to correct me?

  • D December 14, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I was at lunch on Monday with several other prominent businessmen from here in town. That were talking about they’re donations last year to the school. Between the 4 men they donated almost 100,000 just last year and said they will never donate again if the name changes. Just saying.

  • WU December 14, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    There is a petition on if anyone is interested, that explains why people want the name changed. Just use the search box and type in Dixie State College. The petition needs support, and no matter what side you’re on it’s good information to have.

    • Amy Harmon December 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm

      I am the girl in the wheelchair in the picture. I know my beliefs are very unpopular right now, I’ve been told numerous times that I need to “get a life” and that I need to “leave town”, but I hope that everyone will at least try to be open minded and respectful. I would like to add though that I have lived in this area for about 17 years and I plan to continue living here after I graduate.

  • Interesting History December 17, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Perhaps people should read the letter of Delbert Stapley written in 1964 to Michigan governor Romney. Apparently this was the viewpoint of the LDS church, and therefore, most residents of Utah at that time.

    Not very flattering remarks about blacks,

    • William Christensen January 7, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Interesting letter. Kind of shows the feelings of the times. However, I don’t understand why/how you can state, “Apparently this was the viewpoint of the LDS church,” when Stapley himself repeatedly writes that this is his personal view and does not represent any kind of official church statement. Also, in the note at the beginning of the letter it points out how Romney not only disregarded Stapley;s advise, but actually increased his civil rights efforts because of it. Romney was also LDS, so obviously there were prominent LDS people who disagreed with Stapley’s viewpoint, even back then. I see nothing here that has anything to do with Dixie State College or that indicates any greater misunderstanding or prejudice among Utah residents than probably existed among any group of predominantly white people. Those were difficult days and some level of prejudice could be easily found anywhere and among any group of people in those times. Even today it seems there are those who justify forced tolerance and diversity in their battle against what they perceive as intolerance and isolationism. The road to hell is paved and re-paved with good intentions.

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