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Editorial: UNM seal decision doesn’t mean the issue is shelved

Without a better idea in hand, the University of New Mexico regents made a reasonable decision to keep the school’s official seal for now.

Regents did, however, set in motion a process for new seal designs to be advanced and to assess the cost of implementing a new one should a decision be made in the future to adopt a different seal.

That makes sense. It isn’t kicking the can, and it doesn’t mean the students who believe some of the current images – a conquistador and frontiersmen – glorify European violence against Native Americans are wrong to raise concerns. Many of the students who object to the current seal are Native Americans. The seal does include a bird design in a Pueblo pottery style.

The current seal design has been the university’s official insignia since 1969 and is displayed on diplomas and lecterns at news conferences and on a university banner featured on the university’s website under the Silver Cherry traditions.

The recommendation to change the seal came from the university’s Division for Equity and Inclusion after several forums where responses from students were generated. Of the 198 who responded at forums, 194 favored changing the seal with four saying it should stay as it is.

Jozi De Leon, vice president in charge of the division, also solicited email requests. Of the 84 responses, it was about evenly divided about whether the seal should be changed.

At a regents’ meeting this week, Board President Rob Doughty said he was surprised so few people weighed in, despite the tens of thousands of people in the UNM community. He is right, based on the response it doesn’t appear to be a pressing for most people.

However, DeLeon expressed hope the regents decision not to change the design now isn’t the last word on the subject.

And it shouldn’t be. The regents have listened to opponents and have set in motion a logical path for a different design to at least be considered.

The ball is back in the opponents’ court. That should be enough for now.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.