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San Diego State keeps Aztec nickname

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SAN DIEGO - San Diego State University President Stephen Weber announced that the Aztec mascot and the "Monty Montezuma" logo will continue to be used by the university sports teams and school promotions.

American Indian and Hispanic student groups complained the mascot and logo were racist and presented an inaccurate view of the Mesoamerican civilization and their 16th century leader.

Weber says he feels the mascot and logo are confirmations of the diverse campus community at San Diego State.

In his decision Weber said he consulted with several experts on Aztec culture at San Diego State and met with Miguel Leon-Portilla, a leading authority on Aztec culture and history in Mexico. He claims to have consulted several San Diego area American Indian leaders in making his decision.

Weber's statement acknowledged that he felt the campus American Indians and Hispanics had a legitimate gripe with the mascot and logo and said he welcomed their comments and concerns. He pledged to work with these groups to make necessary cosmetic changes to the logo.

University spokesman Jack Beresford says San Diego State will convene a special task force comprised of students, faculty, staff and alumni to "review the accuracy and appropriateness of how the university depicts Aztec culture through characterizations of Montezuma and the Aztecs' logo."

Beresford says Weber believes this is a legitimate issue to discuss and is willing to take suggestions on the logo change.

Though attempting to placate all sides, not everyone is happy with the decision. Native American Student Alliance President Manuel Lieras thinks Weber took "the easy way out."

Lieras says the university already made changes to the "Monty Montezuma" logo a few years ago and style changes do not represent his cause of concern.

"They say that they're just honoring Indigenous culture but most people see it as an excuse to cheer on something silly while they're drunk. I mean, some guy running around in stereotypical Native clothes, breathing fire and using sacred objects to whip up the crowd. This doesn't sound like honor to me," says Lieras.

This image, says Lieras, is a form of racism. He believes that though no one is being physically threatened it trivializes the culture in the eyes of non-Indian students and spectators.