To: Sen. McKell, M.,
Subject: The Dixie name must change
My name is Sara Noel Williams. My father is Mike Noel, former State Representative. I am writing to you today to share my personal belief as to why the title “Dixie” must be removed from our great university. First, I-like most conservatives are frustrated with the current mentality that seeks to cancel everything in the name of political correctness. Having said that, I believe this issue is very different from what we’ve been seeing throughout the country. I am currently enrolled in the Marriage and Family Therapy graduate program here at DSU and I have a unique opportunity to provide therapy and counsel to this diverse and incredible group of students. I am writing this letter in large part as a voice for them but also because I personally believe that the name change is necessary currently. Here are a few of my concerns:
In 1952, the University chose to adopt “Rebel” as a nickname. This was just the beginning of the efforts to tie “Dixie” to the confederate South.
In 1956 The school makes the Confederate soldier its mascot.
In 1960 The school begins flying the Confederate flag as their school symbol.
In 1963 The names their first dormitories “Shiloh” in reference to a Civil War battle.
During these years and even into the 90’s there are yearbook images and historical memorabilia that shows Dixie had a “KKK” club, held slave auctions with the slaves painted in black face, there were parades where white men were acting as the Master’s (with a whip in hand) and people in black face dressed as slaves, plowing the fields.
I think what is most concerning as I learned all of this about my University is that college representatives chose to glorify the darkest parts of our history and purposely align themselves with it when the Civil Rights movement was beginning, and the rest of the country was waking up and taking a hard look at themselves-Dixie college chose to dig their heels in and become enmeshed with a pro-slavery and unquestionably racist mentality.
Even if we’re willing to ignore all the above, we must look at the impact study done by Cicero and consider our students and the negative impact the name has had on them with employers, graduate programs and the discomfort many of them they feel representing the brand “Dixie” outside of Utah. Some local people are passionate about keeping the name and will not believe what they have been told about the negative connotation and how it effects our students as well as recruiting. I spent 4 years living in the capitol of the confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, and 2 years in the deep South of Georgia as my husband attended school and fulfilled his military commitment in the U.S. Army. I understand full well what the Confederate flag and rebel soldier represent and how it is viewed. I do not want to be associated with it.
To ask our students to dedicate four years towards earning an education, sacrificing financially and then to put a known roadblock in their way that could effect being accepted into certain graduate programs or hinder employment because of the name of that very university they were educated? It is wrong and irresponsible of us to put them in that predicament.
Thank you for allowing me to share my views and personal insight as a member of the local community as well as a current student at DSU. I hope you will give this thought and make a decision that is in the best interest of our hardworking students and the future of our University.
Sara Noel Williams