A group of students at San Diego State University have filed a resolution with the Associated Students governing body asking the university to change its mascot, The Aztec Warrior, SDSU confirmed.
The resolution was filed on Oct. 2 by students with the SDSU Queer People of Color Collective.
The group argues, in part, that the:
“Use of the name ‘Aztec’ and the ‘Aztec Warrior’ mascot perpetuate harmful stereotypes of Native Americans, including the notion that Native Americans are innately violent, dangerous, and 'savage' which is demonstrated by the Aztec Warrior’s aggressive body language, the Aztec Warrior’s use of a spear at special events, the use of a spear on the SDSU Athletics Logo which is printed on uniforms and SDSU memorabilia, and the slogan ‘fear the spear.’”
The resolution cites other universities that have used native symbols and mascots, “but then later acknowledged [them] as inappropriate” and retired the characters, including Dartmouth College, Eastern Michigan University, Seattle University, Southern Oregon University and Stanford University.
NBC 7 reached out to SDSU for comment on the matter, and university officials released the following statement:
“A small group of SDSU students have brought forward a resolution to the Associated Students' governing body regarding the university's use of the name Aztecs and its use of the Aztec Warrior as a mascot. San Diego State University has a long and successful tradition of shared governance.
As such, the university is respectful of that process and does not comment on Associated Students' or other resolutions in process.
By way of background, however, the university went through a broadly based, thorough and thoughtful process in 2000-2003 to study, discuss and revise the university logo and mascot in a manner that is a fitting and appropriate affiliation with Aztec culture and history. The changes were overwhelmingly confirmed in a student referendum.
That process - led by a task force of students, faculty, staff, alumni and experts in Aztec culture - provided important guidelines on how best to represent Aztec traditions, build communal spirit and honor specific facets of Aztec culture reflecting the virtues of valor, determination and community-building.”
According to the SDSU website, the current version of The Aztec Warrior mascot made his first public appearance in February 2004 at an SDSU men’s basketball game.
SDSU alumni, faculty and students approved the Aztec Warrior mascot concept in separate referendums held in December 2003. Nearly 10,000 students voted in this process.
Before that, the first Aztec Warrior figure associated with SDSU was Montezuma, who appeared in a skit during halftime at a football game in 1941. The character – commonly known as “Monty” – was created by the school’s rally committee based on the ruler of the Aztec empire in the early 1500s, Montezuma II.
The SDSU website says the Monty mascot adopted a more dignified persona beginning in 1983 during his appearances at sporting events.
In 2000, student groups proposed changes for Monty, including alterations to his costume and the modified moniker, The Aztec Warrior.