To: Sen. McKell, M.,
Subject: FOR the Dixie State Name Change
To the State of Utah Senators:
My name is Marisa, and I am currently a senior at Dixie State University in Saint George Utah. I am studying Digital Design with a minor in Marketing and am so excited to graduate and use all that I have learned as I go into the professional world.
I am also a member of the DSU Student Alumni Association council, and I work as an employee of the DSU Registration and Records Office. Through my involvement with my job and on the DSUSAA council, I am privileged to see so many different sides of the school and the effort and time that is put into everything that happens on campus. Recently there has been an astronomical amount of uproar over the prospect of the name change for the University. Many are outraged and view the possibility of a name change as a dishonor to the history of the area and to the city and school that they love. On the flip side, many see it as a necessity, to prove that the University and us as students do not tolerate or approve of the negative connotations that come with the name 'Dixie.'
Working at the school gives me the opportunity to see both sides to this argument, and to empathize with those who are hurt by the change, as well as to those that are hurt by the continued use of the name. I have lived in the state of Utah for nearly all of my life, and to me the name 'Dixie' never meant anything besides 'south' and had a connotation of warm weather, and pioneer history—I have ancestors that helped settle in this area as well as the surrounding ones. After moving to Saint George and meeting friends and coworkers from out of state, I have come to see how damaging the history behind the name is. To anyone outside the state of Utah, the name brings connotations of hate, ignorance, privilege, racism and bigotry. Those associations have cost students job opportunities, promotions and chances that they shouldn't have needed to miss out on. As a nearly graduated student, I would never want the name of the university that I attended to bypass the effort and dedication I put into my schooling and education. I would never want a future employer to look at the name on my transcript or diploma and assume that I tolerate those ethics that many associate with the name 'Dixie.'
Though the word has never personally offended me, I would never want someone who perhaps is less privileged or has had different life experiences to be hurt by the continued use of the name. Simply because the name didn't always have a negative connotation to me, doesn't mean I can discount the experiences and feelings of others. I want this amazing university to stand out in the state of Utah and in the United States. I want people to be excited to come learn and experience all that Dixie State had to offer. I want them to enjoy their time at school and pursue their dreams as I have, without having to worry about what the name of their university could damage in their future. The Dixie State I've come to know and love, always cares about the experiences and wants the best for them, and I believe as many do, that a name change for the university would be in everyone's best interests.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
- Marisa H.