Overview

Source: Final Report of the 2018 Aztec Identity Task Force, April 30, 2018

Introduction

SDSU President Sally Roush formed the Aztec Identity Task Force (AITF) in response to the University Senate passing a non-binding resolution on Nov. 7, 2017 recommending SDSU retire the Aztec Warrior and related symbols. Senators also requested that SDSU President Sally Roush form a task force to review and make recommendations about the appropriateness of the continued usage of the moniker.

The 17-member AITF included representation among students, faculty, staff, alumni and general community members and was charged with investigating and making recommendations related to SDSU’s continue use of the Aztec identity, including the name and associated symbols. 

Members of the AITF met regularly from February 2018 through April 2018 to review and analyze source documents and survey results, including: the 2001 task force report presented to then-SDSU President Stephen Weber and documents associated with that report; scholarly work related to native and indigenous peoples; and surveys that had been distributed to students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.

Task members synthesized their analysis and recommendations in a report, the “Final Report of the Aztec Identity Task Force,” which was presented to SDSU President Sally Roush for review toward her final decision.

Mission Statement: Aztec Identity Task Force

The original mission statement, which shaped the work of the Aztec Identity Task Force from February 2018 through April 2018, reads: 

The mission of the 2018 Aztec Identity Task Force (AITF) is to consider the opinions of stakeholders associated with San Diego State University and provide recommendations related to the Aztec identity to the President of San Diego State University.

Process

Members of the Aztec Identity Task Force (AITF) served as volunteers and were not compensated for their service.

Members reviewed scholarly research related to native and indigenous peoples, email correspondence sent to SDSU from various constituent groups, social media postings related to Aztec identify conversations, formal documents and other archival materials. Such materials built upon a 2001 task force report presented to then-SDSU President Stephen Weber, which was also reviewed by AITF members.

Task force members also received informative presentations pertaining to the history of the Aztec name and Aztec Warrior, and also reviewed survey results from 12,755 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.
 

Survey Results

SDSU disseminated a total of 200,584 surveys and 12,755 surveys were completed, for a response rate of 6.33 percent. Additionally, respondents volunteered 6,128 comments. Results of the anonymous surveys helped inform the AITF’s recommendations.

Regarding the quantitative and qualitative findings, the AITF found that:

  • 88 percent of respondents stated a desire to retain the Aztec name.
  • 78 percent of respondents supported the retention of the Aztec Warrior.

The survey of faculty and staff found that 62 percent who responded are in favor of retaining the human representation of the Aztec Warrior, with comments that it should be done in a manner that demonstrates respect, pride and honor.

As respondents indicated overwhelming support for retaining the Aztec name and the Aztec Warrior, many students also called for education and other actions to ensure enhanced cultural sensitivity and respect for Native and indigenous communities and peoples.  

Conclusions and Recommendations

The unanimous recommendations of the Aztec Identity Task Force (AITF) are as follows:

  • SDSU should continue and strengthen its programs and activities to support indigenous peoples.
  • It is appropriate to use a variety of symbols from Aztec culture throughout the campus community, including human and animal as well as other symbols, as long as they are culturally appropriate and historically accurate.
  • Designers wishing to use any Aztec symbol, human, or animal depiction must understand all of the nuances, subtleties, history, spirituality, symbolism and other issues associated with the particular item.
  • The AITF supports the plans and ideas put forth by the Aztec Culture Education Committee (ACEC) and recommends that this organization be further institutionalized and allowed to move forward with appropriate authority and funding for the various projects.
  • The AITF members are divided regarding the continued use of the Aztec Warrior
    to represent SDSU’s spirit leader.