Discussions start on a new seal for UNM - Albuquerque Journal

Discussions start on a new seal for UNM

Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal

After some students called it racist, the University of New Mexico’s nearly half-a-century-old seal might be changed.

UNM President Bob Frank announced Friday morning that he and his staff have started discussions about creating a new image to replace the current seal that features a conquistador and frontiersman, figures some say are racist and glorify violent European treatment of Native Americans. Others say it represents Spain’s role in the founding of New Mexico.

Frank told the Board of Regents he met with some students to discuss the seal on Thursday.

“It was a very educational experience for me,” Frank said.

The announcement comes weeks after students staged protests about the seal. The largest protest took place last month outside Scholes Hall, home to the office of the president. They carried loud speakers and highlighter-yellow picket signs that said “Abolish the racist seal.”

This is an image of the University of New Mexico's current official seal
This is an image of the University of New Mexico’s current official seal. Some student groups say the seal is racist and offensive. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

Protest of the seal has been ongoing since the student group Kiva Club, a Native American student group, and the Red Nation, a Native American advocacy group, first raised their complaints about the seal earlier this year.

The protesters say it’s emblematic of deeper-seated racism at the university, and they also have a list of demands that includes increasing the number of Native Americans on faculty, the creation of a Native American cultural center and tuition waivers for members of federally recognized tribes.

University officials have already started talking to students about the seal, and on Thursday they hosted a sparsely attended public forum – during finals week.

Jozi de Leon, head of UNM’s Division of Equity and Inclusion, said her staff would start discussions with groups such as staff and alumni who are available during the summer, and UNM will host a second public forum in August.

The university also emailed a survey earlier this month asking students to share their thoughts on the seal, then yanked it. De Leon said the site where the survey was hosted allowed students to take the survey multiple times.

Head of the Board of Regents Rob Doughty wrote an Op-Ed in the Journal in which he said it may be time to consider changing the seal.

“A seal should be a core reflection of the university’s identity, and it is important that it be an accurate reflection of who we are now and for the foreseeable future,” Doughty wrote. “If one agrees with that idea, then the students who have raised the issue have a righteous claim because this seal seems to fail that test.”

The current seal has been around since 1969, though its origins can be traced back to the 1910s.

Conversations at UNM have thus far been mostly focused on changing the seal, with most in favor.

But three members of the public offered a different view during the public forum portion of Friday’s regents meeting. While they didn’t say the seal should remain the same, two said they didn’t believe the conquistadors had committed genocide against Native Americans. One person suggested that the seal retain the conquistador and frontiersman, while adding a Native American.

Ralph Arellanes, chairman of the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico, said removing the conquistador would be denying the role the Spanish played in colonizing New Mexico.

“Modifying yes, removing is unacceptable,” he said.

He suggested getting rid of the conquistador’s sword, and maybe have him riding a horse.

Ultimately, it’s the Board of Regents’ decision to change or alter the seal.

Home » News » Albuquerque News » Discussions start on a new seal for UNM


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Detectives look for man in East Central homicide
ABQnews Seeker
Detectives are looking for a man ... Detectives are looking for a man accused of gunning down an acquaintance during a dispute last weekend at an apartment off East Central. Tayven ...
2
Race to be Dem candidate for BCSO boss gets ...
ABQnews Seeker
A former sheriff and an ex-legislator ... A former sheriff and an ex-legislator are among the contenders
3
Allegations of cover-up at CYFD spark AG, DA inquiries
ABQnews Seeker
AG Balderas promises an evaluation of ... AG Balderas promises an evaluation of whether any laws were broken
4
CYFD cover-up alleged in boy's death
ABQnews Seeker
Lawsuit: Investigator pleaded to remove 4-year-old ... Lawsuit: Investigator pleaded to remove 4-year-old from dangerous environment
5
FBI says 'Shop and Rob Bandit' apparently back at ...
ABQnews Seeker
It seems the 'Shop and Rob ... It seems the 'Shop and Rob Bandit' has struck again — and may have taken a deep dive into the closet for a new ...
6
APD in standoff with man who cut off ankle ...
ABQnews Seeker
Police were in a standoff Friday ... Police were in a standoff Friday afternoon with a man who allegedly cut off his ankle bracelet and holed up in an apartment in ...
7
Paved trail reopened on east side of bosque near ...
ABQnews Seeker
The paved bosque trail on the ... The paved bosque trail on the east side of the river reopened on Friday following a multi-acre blaze earlier this week south of Montaño. ...
8
Summer travel kicks off with record gas prices
ABQnews Seeker
Most families will likely limit the ... Most families will likely limit the extent of their outings throughout the season
9
Student organizes school walkout
ABQnews Seeker
Texas school shooting prompts action Texas school shooting prompts action