Talk of a new mascot for Dixie State University increased during fall, and whether we remain the Red Storm or not, debate incited among administration, faculty and students will serve as a better indicator of the university’s future than the end result.
The DSU Student Association started a poll toward fall semester’s end asking students to provide their feelings about Dixie’s current mascot. We recognize that a debate in regards to DSU’s identity holds the potential to set the course for how different groups on campus both interact with each other and bring change in the future.
Such dialogue might pinpoint a mascot that better sums up Dixie in its progression as a university; however, if past debate serves as any indication — in 2009 over the transition from Rebels to Red Storm and in 2012 because of the name Dixie — such a topic could cause a divide on campus.
So above all, we believe that whether the mascot remains Red Storm or shifts to something else, the conversation and execution of such change should remain civil and unite the student body rather than pit different ideologies against each other.
DSUSA’s survey provides a good start. The first step in this process should be to determine what a consensus on the mascot is without swaying to one side.
Just six years ago DSU made the change from Rebels to Red Storm, so if a majority finds a new identity necessary, that symbol must be creative and made to last so this discussion doesn’t resurface every five years.
We agree that students find difficulty identifying as the Red Storm, and a more concrete mascot could alleviate this. Take our neighbor to the north as an example. Southern Utah University centers numerous aspects of student life around its mascot — the Thunderbirds.
At SUU, incoming students attend “Flight School” for freshman orientation to “gain their wings.” AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” blares before the start of sporting events, and the mascot at athletics matches the name — rather than at Dixie, where a crimson bull serves as the figure for the Red Storm.
Using this as an example, whatever DSU’s mascot ultimately becomes, it should be versatile so it not only gives a face to the athletic department but also impacts facets of student life.
As change-makers on campus determine whether DSU needs a new face or not, they should take note of southern Utah’s unique geographical and cultural scape and create a timeless mascot if they see a need for it. But most importantly, they must realize that if the debate turns bitter, our identity means little if the process behind choosing it fails to unite us.