The words “I’m sorry” have connotations ranging from deep regret to shallow sympathy.
The Salt Lake Tribune writer Lindsay Whitehurst wrote in an article dated Jan. 11 that Dixie State College officials would potentially issue an apology to those offended by the name “Dixie” and the college’s problematic embracing of a Confederate identity from the 1960s to the 1990s. Should such an apology come forward, DSC officials may be under scrutiny as to what their version of “I’m sorry” really means.
The editors of Dixie Sun News feel that any apology is unnecessary. Some of us question the sincerity of such an apology and whether it truly reflects the attitudes of the community. Some of us wonder if DSC officials simply want closure in order to prepare for the excitement of Dixie’s impending university status. Some of us believe that DSC officials should not have to look backward and focus on past events they may not have had a part in.
Regardless of the motives behind the apology, issuing one only prolongs the already vitriolic debate. The polls conducted by Sorenson Advertising have clearly indicated popular support for keeping the name “Dixie” in the college’s name. It’s time to move on from the debate and focus on more positive and productive ways to promote and celebrate our institution.
The school and community have already embarrassed themselves as the nasty debate over the name made national news. Further continuation of the argument may perpetuate an ugly depiction of Dixie State College and St. George by causing us to look like petty tweens unable to get over it.
Unfortunately, should an apology be issued, that may be exactly what happens. It will only look like a shallow attempt to placate a vocal minority, which will only further fan the flames.
Instead of an apology that holds the current student body and school officials responsible for events they may have had nothing to do with, administrators should instead issue an acknowledgement of past insensitive and offensive actions.
Along with the acknowledgement, administrators should issue a reminder that the college has been disassociating itself from a “Confederate” identity, beginning with the changing of the Rebel mascot. They should also pledge to actively avoid future racist actions and behaviors regarding the school’s identity and name.
Such an acknowledgement, reminder and pledge would allow administrators to demonstrate they understand Dixie’s problematic past while avoiding any accusations of insincerity or kowtowing an apology may cause. Furthermore, it would allow the same closure as an apology and allow us to move forward in celebrating our new status and growth.