A bill that would allow Dixie State University in Utah to change its name passed the state Legislature Wednesday and now heads to Governor Spencer Cox to sign, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Dixie State administrators said in December they wanted to change the name but needed approval from the Legislature to do so.
The final version of the bill does not stop the new name from including “Dixie” and requires the university to form a committee to collect more community input before deciding on a new name, the Tribune reported.
If the university does ultimately choose to drop “Dixie” from its name, it will be required to create a Heritage Committee to “preserve the heritage, culture, and history of the region on the campus,” according to the bill.
The measure, HB 278, passed the Legislature 26 to 3, with a few lawmakers criticizing the measure by saying it gave in to “cancel culture.”
“Mr. Potato Head is now Potato Head,” State Senator John Johnson, who voted against the bill, said during discussion of the vote. “Dr. Seuss is on his death bed. Where does this stop?”
Johnson also pointed out that the University of Utah is able to keep its Runnin’ Utes mascot because “they paid off some group.” Johnson was referring to an arrangement between the university and the Ute Indian Tribe. He also posed hypothetical questions about changing the state’s name or tearing down a statue of Brigham Young at Brigham Young University.
Last year, the university found that 64 percent of survey respondents outside Utah relate the word “Dixie” to racism. Nearly a quarter of recent out-of-state graduates said that an employer had concern about “Dixie” appearing on their résumés.