SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 24, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Following a student protest at the Utah State Capitol asking the stalled Dixie State University name change bill be heard, the state’s Senate has agreed to hear HB-278 before the legislative session ends.
Senate President Stuart Adams (R-Layton) tweeted Wednesday morning about his optimism after conferring with a group of students from St. George’s Dixie State University.
“It was great to meet with @DixieState students this morning,” Stuart tweeted on Wednesday. “I appreciate their participation in the legislative process. Without public input, we can’t create sound policy. I believe we will find a solution.”
The name change has been privately debated for years by those who wish to maintain the school’s traditional name and those who see the term “Dixie” as a racially charged term used to describe the Southern states during time when slavery was widely practiced.
Dixie State University officials reviewed a study conducted about the impact of the name and considered students’ and graduates’ reports that they believed the controversial name hurt their chances of getting a job. DSU officials then voted to support a change of the university’s name.
Gephardt Daily reported on Feb. 19 that Dixie State University officials were “taken aback” to learn the bill had been placed on the back burner, so to speak.
“After receiving support from the University’s President’s Cabinet, University Council, Student Association Executive Council, Faculty Senate and Staff Association as well as the Utah Board of Higher Education, all of the Utah System of Higher Education college and university presidents and a two-thirds majority of the Utah House of Representatives, we were taken aback to hear that the Utah Senate is not planning to hear House Bill 278,” says a statement released last week by the Dixie State University to Gephardt Daily.
Reporters at the Legislature on Wednesday were told the bill, already approved by the House, would be heard by the Senate after all.
“We continue to work toward a solution that respects the perspectives of the community, members of the university and students,” said a Utah Senate tweet quoting bill co-sponsor Sen. Mike McKell (R-Spanish Fork), Senate sponsor for the bill introduced by Rep. Kelly Miles, (R-Ogden).
Adams told reporters on Wednesday that more community input may be sought, and the bill could face some modification.
See a current copy of the bill below.House Bill 278