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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Students, Community Members Rally Against Dixie State University's Newly Recommended Name

A photo of people gathered at a protest with Dixie flags and signs.
Lexi Peery
People gathered at Dixie State University to protest the school’s proposed new name. Some held cardboard boxes poking fun at the recommendation — UPS University.

Chanting “Ex The Tech” and “Keep Dixie,” students and community members rallied Wednesday night against Dixie State University’s proposed new name.

Many showed up with Dixie flags and shirts in support of keeping things the same. Others don’t feel like Utah Polytechnic State University — the name recommended by a school committee — represents them.

Stephanie Meeks, a junior at DSU, said she supports a name change. She took the school’s survey and hoped it would be something like “Deseret.” Though she is in favor of incorporating tech into the school, she said doesn’t like this name.

“I told my parents ‘If they don't change it [from Utah Polytechnic], like I'm tempted to not go here. I love this school, but I have like two years left. I could easily go somewhere else,’” she said. “I don't go to a tech school. I don't do anything with technology.”

Quinton Read organized the rally and has similar feelings as Meeks. He’s applying for nursing school at DSU and said he’s proud of the name Dixie.

“I don't want to get into a nursing program at a tech school,” Read said. “I would prefer a name that are humanities majors, business majors, medical majors — a name that everybody can stand behind that isn't just for technical degrees.”

To DSU sophomore Ryan Whipple, Utah Polytechnic State University is just too generic.

“UPSU could be anywhere in Utah,” Whipple said. “That doesn't represent me, doesn't represent my student family, doesn't represent my heritage [and] doesn't represent the area at all.”

The students were joined by members of Defending Southwestern Utah Heritage Coalition, a group that’s fighting to keep Dixie around. They formed last year when local city and county leaders renamed the Dixie Center, which was ultimately reversed. They’ve been active in fighting against the university’s name change efforts.

Brad Bennett, the community action committee chair for the group, said dropping the name from the school is removing the area’s history and “caving to cancel culture.” He said disapproval of the new name is widespread in the community.

“We're against any name that doesn't have Dixie in it, but this one's about as bad as you can get,” he said. “I suspect [university officials will be] revisiting it now because this was supposed to already be voted on by the board of trustees and they've delayed that vote. So maybe, you know, there's a sense of clarity coming to them. But we'll see.”

University officials said they chose “Utah Polytechnic State” because it highlights their academic mission. Now, it goes to the university board of trustees for a vote.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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