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Poll: Most Utahns wouldn’t change name of Dixie State University

An entrance sign at Dixie State University is pictured in St. George on Sunday, Oct.11, 2020. Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — It may not be this year, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said recently, but Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, will eventually see a name change.

At the same time, Utahns are weighing in on the subject via a Deseret News-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll, which found that 61 percent of Utahns don’t think the name should change.

RELATED: Utah Board of Higher Education backs Dixie State University name change

The Deseret News reports that the poll was conducted by Scott Rasmussen on Feb. 10 through Feb 16, 2021. It included 1,000 registered Utah voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Twenty percent of those asked thought the name should change, and the rest said they didn’t know.

Right now, Utah lawmakers are considering HB278 which begins the legal process of a name change for Dixie State. The bill moved out of the Utah House by a vote of 51-20, but as of Saturday, Feb. 20, the bill remained in the Senate Rules Committee.

RELATED: House approves bill to rename Dixie State University

According to the Deseret News, state senators will likely keep the bill off of the Senate floor.

At the heart of the debate is the word “Dixie,” which draws comparisons to southern states during the American Civil War. The word may not have racist connotations in Utah, but according to supporters of the bill like Rep. Steven Waldrip, R-Eden, the use of the word has been re-examined in other parts of the country.

“It’s simply a recognition of the reality of what is in our world today,” Waldrip said.

Gov. Cox said that he approves of a name change for Dixie State University.  The Deseret News reports that Cox said the name has “obvious racial connotations around the name ‘Dixie.'” 

He also believes a name change will benefit the University by attracting a wider audience of potential students and teachers and will be helpful for Dixie University alumni entering the job market.