ST. GEORGE, Utah – Focus groups have convened as Dixie State University undergoes a name change process in support of dropping the “Dixie” name.
That’s according to a report on focus group meetings submitted to the university and released this week. In fact, according to the report, 65% of those who participated supported “Dixie” dumping. The focus groups were conducted by Love Communications, a Salt Lake City-based advertising and public relations company.
âThe same passion has been expressed by supporters and opponents of keeping the current name, and yet almost everyone has expressed the same goal – to help the university become nationally regarded while serving the region. southern Utah as a full open-enrollment university, âthe report said. said, later adding:
“However, based on community support for the Dixie term, we recommend that the institution devote more time to developing ways to honor the history and heritage of the area if the Dixie term were removed from the name.”
The university is in the middle of a name change process after the Utah state legislature passed a bill to allow it. University officials and some students argued that the name “Dixie”, with connotations to the Civil War Confederacy, damages the school’s image, recruitment and retention. They also emphasize tCollege past with Confederate-style mascots and symbolism.
Supporters of the name argue it has a different meaning in southwest Utah, where it is linked to Mormon pioneers who settled in the area to grow cotton. Focus group opinions on “Dixie” range from strong support in the name to passionate opposition.
âWe have over a hundred years of history and no one has ever said this was a problem,â said a comment from a focus group participant.
Another said: “The discussion of the name change gives legitimacy to the idea that the word Dixie is racist.”
“It’s just a reaction to cancel the culture,” added another.
While another said: “By the time my friend took Dixie off his CV, he got the interviews three times.”
“When the community, the school and the students decided it was okay to incorporate racist symbols, that is when it became racist,” another focus group participant said in the report.
Adding another: “It’s time to start the boil and end it.”
But how changing the name of the university is still mixed. The groups were given different names in the study. Some commentators at the Polytechnic of Utah said it was “forward looking” while others said it was “too cheap”.
Deseret University was hailed for its connection to southern Utah’s heritage, but others were concerned that it was too closely tied to one religious group (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints Days called the territory “Deseret” before Congress forced it to change it to Utah for statehood). Another said Deseret “looks like a typo.”
Geographic names like Red Cliffs, Red Rock, and Desert University have received mixed reviews. Love Communications recommended that they be removed from consideration, while names like St. George University, University of St. George or variants of Southwestern Utah State University did a little better.
The legislature’s bill ultimately requires that a new university name come to them later this year after more public verification. Governor Spencer Cox, who signed the bill to initiate the name change process, told FOX 13 on the last night of the legislative session that he expected any future name to not have the word “Dixie.”