San Diego State University's Mascot Gets a New Title

“”Monty”” Montezuma is no longer the San Diego State University mascot, President Stephen Weber announced Tuesday. Instead, he will take on a new role as campus “”ambassador”” — a more dignified portrayal of the Aztec leader.

For now, there are no plans to find a new mascot. Rather, the university will give Montezuma a new role as a figure Weber hopes will be used more for education and cultural awareness and less for cheerleading at football games. He will still attend games, however.

“”This isn’t going to look like the old one,”” he said. “”It’s not going to act like the old one. It’s going to have different responsibilities than the old one had. This is not simply shifting the name — it’s shifting what it is.””

All references to “”Monty”” will be ousted from the university and only the full name Montezuma will be used, he said. In addition, university logos that depict a red-faced Aztec will be removed, replaced by a new one designed with the guidance of Aztec scholars.

Weber’s decision is the culmination of an eight-month local and national debate ignited by the Native American Student Alliance in November over the campus’ use of Aztec images.

His decision also comes one month after the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights called for an end to the use of Native American mascots for sports teams and universities.

Weber said Aztec culture is different than the cultures the commission referred to because it ended 250 years before the United States was founded. The U.S. report, he said, mainly deals with more contemporary cultures.

Members of the student groups who protest the university’s use of Aztec images say they are not satisfied with the final decision.

“”It’s just a complete slap,”” said NASA’s president Manny Lieras. “”It’s like them saying ‘You guys put up a good fight, but you’re too small and too few to be given any consideration.'””

NASA has about 20 members.

At the press conference Tuesday, members of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan held signs protesting the use of human mascots.

“”We have nothing against the connection between the Aztec culture and the university, but when it is done in a way that disrespects our culture and silences our voice, it is something we are totally against,”” said MEChA member Ron Gochez.

Weber said he does not expect everyone will be happy with his decision, but asserted that the university handled the matter appropriately.

“”I don’t expect them to change their minds because I’ve made this decision,”” he said. “”And I expect that they will continue to express their contrary view. But, I don’t think anyone can argue that the university hasn’t taken it seriously, studied it carefully.””

For the past five months, a task force analyzed the university’s depiction of Montezuma. The group was comprised of 20 appointed members and submitted its recommendations to Weber on May 2. The task force’s submission included a proposal to make Montezuma an ambassador instead of a mascot.

The process of eradicating “”Monty”” references will affect Monty’s Pub in Aztec Center and four Monty’s Markets. This, along with the elimination of logos, is expected to cost the university thousands of dollars.

Weber expects the changes to be completed by 2003. The university and any auxiliary organization affected by his decision will be responsible for funding the changes. However, the campus is up against a $2.9 million deficit next year brought on by high natural gas prices, and Weber said he anticipates tight resources.

“”There’s a lot of work to do and we don’t have a lot of money to get it done, so it must be done in a fiscally responsible way over time,”” he said. “”We’re going to do all of these things, but we’re all facing a very tough budget.””

Louie Holton, owner of Monty’s Pub, said he has no idea what name he’s going to give his business now.

“”I haven’t really thought about it,”” he said. “”I’ll probably change it to my own name. That way I won’t make anybody mad.””

The bar on campus has been called Monty’s Pub since the early 1990s. When Holton took over the establishment in 1999, he said he was asked to retain the name.

The only “”Monty”” reference that will stay on campus is the Alumni Association’s Monty Awards, given to outstanding alumni, faculty and staff each year. The Monty, which is based upon SDSU’s 1936 Donal Hord sculpture, will continue to be used by the association to represent the prestigious award, Weber said.

Alumni Association Director Jim Herrick said the group supports Monty’s promotion, even though most alumni hoped the figure would remain the campus mascot.

“”We don’t have the mascot anymore — that’s very painful to most alumni,”” Herrick said. “”Nonetheless, we do still have Montezuma and we’re going to give that role as an ambassador more dignity.””

For now, Aztec Shops will continue to sell products and the football team will continue wearing uniforms bearing the red-faced logo. New shipments with the image will not be ordered.

Montezuma will also still make appearances at football games, but not in the spear-throwing manner he has assumed in the past. Instead he will be depicted with more respect and historical accuracy.

“”We have cheerleaders on the field,”” Weber said. “”We’re looking at the role of Montezuma and he’s not going to be a cheerleader.””

Last fall, the A.S. Council voted to recommend dropping the mascot and nickname “”Aztecs.”” Students then voted in a nonbinding campus referendum that showed overwhelming support for keeping the mascot and nickname. The Alumni Association and the University Senate also approved similar resolutions.

In November, Weber announced that the campus would keep its affiliation with the Aztec, but formed the task force to look into how similar images are used.

Despite Weber’s final decision on the matter, an action is still pending with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. It was filed in February by a NASA member, but other members say the group will not pursue any further action.

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