UNM equity division backs change to 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)

After months of forums and public input, the University of New Mexico’s Division of Equity and Inclusion is recommending that regents change the university’s seal following protests from many, including students, who say the image is racist.

After months of forums and public input, the University of New Mexico’s Division of Equity and Inclusion is recommending that regents change the university’s seal following protests from many, including students, who say the image is racist.

That recommendation will be made at a Thursday regents’ committee meeting of Brad Hosmer, Suzanne Quillen and student regent Ryan Berryman. If approved there, the full board of regents will consider the measure at its Nov. 15 meeting.

“The university seal should be changed by removing the existing conquistador and frontiersman and creating a seal that is more inclusive, aspirational, honors UNM’s diversity and or defines us as an institution of higher education,” wrote Jozi De Leon, the vice president in charge of the Division of Equity and Inclusion.

Some students, particularly those from Native American backgrounds, have been pushing the university to change the seal for months.

They say the conquistador and frontiersman featured on the seal glorify violent European treatment of Native Americans.

The Office of Equity and Inclusion’s suggestion is the first time a formal recommendation to change the seal has reached the Board of Regents, said De Leon.

The recommendation to alter the seal, which is featured on diplomas and lecterns at news conferences, comes after De Leon’s office hosted seven different events to gather community input on the seal.

Of the 198 who responded at forums, 194 were in favor of changing the seal. Only four said the seal should remain as is.

De Leon also solicited email requests. Of the 84 email responses, about half were in favor of changing the seal and the other half were in favor of leaving it as is.

“We have done a tremendous amount of data gathering and have compiled all of the input. Our recommendations are based on the input received,” De Leon told the Journal on Tuesday afternoon.

De Leon advocates creating a committee of faculty, staff, students and alumni to recommend a new seal design.

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