Dixie-ites dead set on name retention at Sorenson forum; STGnews Videocast

City of St. George Mayor Dan McArthur holds up a card with the lyrics to "Are you from Dixie?" on it. He said Dixie was a unifying name for the community, not a divisive one, St. George, Utah, Dec. 20, 2012 | Photo by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – In what was originally meant to be a closed focus group with a handful of participants, over 90 people showed up at Dixie State College of Utah to tell representatives of Sorenson Advertising what the name “Dixie” meant to them. This, as the college considers a name change suitable for its anticipated university status.

Wednesday night a message was relayed over social media that Dixie State’s president Stephen Nadauld wanted to speak with members of the community who supported the Dixie name. The same message was repeated over local radio Thursday morning.

Eric Sorenson, of Sorenson Advertising, the agency conducting the study surrounding college name, said the purpose the meeting was to gauge how older members of the community felt about “Dixie.”

People expecting to hear from Nadauld, who is currently out of town, were disappointed. A representative of Sorenson Advertising said the nature of the meeting had become skewed.

“We wanted to make sure every voice was heard,” Sorenson said. Responses to the Dixie name had been substantial, he said, and now an opportunity to speak their minds was being offered to members of the community who may not have had access to Sorenson’s online survey.

Due to the nature of the meeting, members of the media were asked not to photograph or record the proceedings, though they were allowed to take notes on comments made.

In the following videocast, St. George News reporter Mori Kessler interviewed attendees before and after the meeting. Among them was Mayor Dan McArthur of the City of St. George.

(story continues below)

Video by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News

A Dixie State alumnus, McArthur said, “I’m a rebel at heart.”

“I’m tired of people coming from outside the area and bringing their prejudice and hates and dislikes and trying to throw it on us,” he said,  “because that’s never been what Dixie’s all about.”

If people have a problem with the Dixie name, he said, it is a problem they brought with them from elsewhere.

In the forum, the Mayor was even more pointed: Should “Dixie” be removed from the name of the college as it becomes a university, he said the relationship between the City of St. George and the institution could deteriorate. In the accompanying videocast interview, he said that if it doesn’t have the name Dixie, “you’ll find us going down to diverging paths, not converging.”

“Dixie is a place we’re all proud of,” he said.

Brody Mikesell, DSC student body president, said he planned to wait and see the results on the data collected by Sorenson Advertising before making a final call on the matter himself. However, he said he would represent the interests of DSC students, though he understands what Dixie means to the community.

“(Dixie) means something dear to them,” Mikesell said of Dixie supporters. “On the opposite side, there are a lot of students that see it as a hindrance for themselves, for the institution and they see a lot of the negative connotations, the negative semblances …”

Mikesell participated in a separate focus group held earlier that afternoon. He did not go to the second meeting  attended by McArthur and others.

Danny Shakespeare, a DSC alumnus, said he never thought of Dixie as a racist term. Instead, he said he saw the name as representing the heritage of the area. “It’s just who we are,” he said. “We’re the Dixie of Utah.”

A concept that was brought up multiple times during the meeting was the “Dixie spirit” and what it meant.

“The Dixie spirit is what’s in our hearts,” said Dixie alumnus Ernie Doose.  “The thing about the Dixie spirit is its emphasis on the individual. We are all one entity, but there’s an individuality of the Dixie spirit … It isn’t something you can just pull out of the air.”

Doose said the Dixie spirit was embodied by the late Roene DiFiore. DiFiore, whose name was also mentioned by McArthur, Doose and others, was a faculty member at the college who oversaw the Program Bureau, a show choir from which DSC’s current Raging Red chorus descended. She is the author of “Are you from Dixie?” – a song McArthur often sings at public events.

Ross Taylor, a retired DSC faculty member, said Dixie is a great name for a great community. “We are Utah’s Dixie,” he said. “It represents the heart of the people.”

Taylor has been an educator in Southern Utah for 51 years. He originally taught at Winward High School, then at Dixie High School after it split off from the college. He also served as the high school’s principal for a time. He retired last year, ending a period at the college as a math teacher.

“I have a deep feeling in my heart for the name Dixie,” he said.

Sorensen said comments from the meeting will be only one of many factors addressed by his company as it finalizes name recommendations for the college trustees to consider. He said Sorenson Advertising would present its findings and name recommendations to the public on Jan. 9, 2013, at the Cox Auditorium on the DSC campus.

The trustees are slated to vote on a name change on Jan. 18.

Related posts

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

City of St. George Mayor Dan McArthur holds up a card with the lyrics to “Are you from Dixie?” on it. He said Dixie was a unifying name for the community, not a divisive one, St. George, Utah, Dec. 20, 2012 | Photo by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News


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  • vcllist December 21, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Roene DiFiore is not the author of “Are you from Dixie.” My mother is from the south and heard that song many times growing up. It was written by Jack Yellen and George Cobb.

    Just another example of something people think represents southern Utah, but actually comes from the South.

    I am embarassed every time I hear the mayor sing that song. It makes people who aren’t old timers feel like they don’t belong– which isn’t exactly good for a city trying to attract new businesses and industry, is it. You can’t have it both ways.

  • Ktech December 21, 2012 at 12:39 am

    i would never dream of moving somewhere and freaking out about a name of a school or a song that many, many generations have know and loved. It was a choice you made to move here and attend a school. If it was such an issue, why did you choose this school. We already had to give up the ” Rebel” name, don’t take away Dixie!

    • Real Talk December 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      We’re just as local as you. I own a piece of this red desert just like you, and pay taxes on it, just like you. Stop using the term outsiders. Your town hasn’t been made up of just old time natives for quite some time now. Infact, I hardly ever run into someone that was born and raised here. This place was only the 2nd FASTEST GROWING area in the US once. How would any city come to be if “outsiders” didn’t move in?! Open your dam mind!

  • Karen December 21, 2012 at 8:19 am

    My ancestors were “called to Dixie” and we will always call St. George “Dixie”. But I find statements by Mayor MacArthur about “people coming in from outside and bringing their prejudice and hates and dislikes” very disappointing. I think the people who desire a new beginning for a university have valid points and should not be dismissed as outsiders. In my view, dropping the “Dixie” name for the new university in no way diminishes our heritage but I do recognize what the name means to our history. We should listen to everyone’s views with respect.

  • trisha December 21, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Ktech- I TOTALLY agree.

  • St George Resident December 21, 2012 at 8:40 am

    It is embarrassing to hear the mayor sing “Dixie” at functions or hear him recite poetry on radio stations. This is the best this city can have as a mayor? The Mayor when asked what are you doing about the high unemployment, crime, overcrowded schools, etc will do a song and dance and poetry recital. Instead of listening to the people in this city, he acts as if everyone should heed him.

    It’s time for the mayor to be replaced with someone who is qualified to hold that position, a real leader, not someone who wants to act like St George is still a one stoplight bump along the road town where everyone is related to each other.

    If the mayor wants the statue, go stick it in his yard, in his living room or in his pickup truck he recently wrecked..

    BTW, to those radio stations who air the mayor’s nonsense discussions and poetry sessions, I change the station as soon as he greets everyone with his dorky introduction. His has nothing of value to say. I think he has lied to us and you cannot believe him. Why do you waste valuable air time and drive your listeners away by letting him on?

    • ken December 21, 2012 at 9:51 am

      He is still mayor because it is easy to baffle those who swallow the kool-aid!

      • Tyler December 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm

        He’s been mayor FOREVER, like since ’92?? How long can he possibly have a monopoly on this city. I thought there was a time limit!

    • Big Bob December 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      Couldn’t agree more, Resident. He is cleary detached from reality and stuck in that small western town, where everybody knows your name mode. Lol. How long will the newer, modern generations tolerate this? Clearly he wins year after year b/c the old time locals are the ones who vote for him.

  • An Interesting Read December 21, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Does this represent the Dixie Confederate spirit?


  • Susan Ertel December 21, 2012 at 11:57 am


    Maybe the Mayor should look up the original sheet music for “Are You From Dixie?” before he attributes it to DiFiore anymore. Hopefully, he will stop singing that song once he sees the sheet music cover. Those are not Mormon pioneers in the background picking cotton.

  • william December 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Brody Mikesell, DSC student body president was not offended by the name DIXIE when he enrolled at DIXIE Collage. Brody Mikesell was not offended by the name Dixie when he started classes at DIXIE. Brody Mikesell was not offended by the name DIXIE when he ran for Student Body President. When did he get offended by the name DIXIE ??????

    • Demitrius December 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      Are you from DIXIE? Lmao!!!

  • Ron December 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Obviously, some people in St. George, including the Mayor, need to move into the 21st century. The day of small towns where people were born, lived, and died is over. We are a mobile society. Those of us who have relocated here are not “guests” of the town. We own property, pay taxes, hold jobs, and have every right to voice our opinions. If the native population of St. George can’t handle that, they had better put a fence around the town.

    • Demitrius December 21, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      Amen! It’s too late, can’t fence off I-15, from a now diverse, dynamic growing metroplex in the desert. If they wanted everybody to be a “Dixie-ite”, they should’ve fenced off their little cult town way back in the days of dusty roads and cowboys.

  • Tyler December 21, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I’m a St. Georgian, not a “Dixie-ite! Mr. Mayor, don’t insult or embarass locals by slapping that label on us. I can’t help but associate this Dixie spirit with mormonism. That’s why I look down at the local definition of Dixie.

  • Kerry December 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    It’s really time to get rid of the mayor. The city manager runs the town. The mayor just conducts council meetings and whistles “Dixie”.

    • william December 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm

      There was once a City by the Sea and the city was full of CityFolk who said “Oh we hate it here. It is not at all like the great City by the Desert, where the people are so friendly and warm and so pleasant to be around”

      So the CityFolk move from the City by the Sea to the City by the Desert. But then the CityFolk started noticing that things were not to their liking. And cries of “It being run by the Good Old Boys, and these hicks or Dixie-ite, are too backward and racist in their thinking to be in power”

      So the CityFolk whine, and cried, and wrote about how things should be in the newspaper and campaigned to bring enlightenment to the City by the Desert. They got together and make up the Washington Coalition. They scoff that those who said “It you don’t like it leave”

      After a time the CityFolk with help of others of their kind, got their way and made the changes, that brought the enlightenment to the City by the Dessert.

      Then CityFolk put a For Sale sign in front of their house. When ask why they were leaving after getting all that they wanted. They cried “Oh we hate it here. It not like at all like the great City by the Forest where people are so friendly and warm and so pleasant to be with”

      • Dixie-ites are Unfriendly People December 21, 2012 at 4:58 pm

        The friendliest people are those “outsiders” that the mayor and his ilk scoff at. They make everyone feel unwelcome.

        Yeah, mayor, you talk about growth in the area. That’s all you’ve been blithering for the past 10 years. Growth is fine when it puts money in your pocket apparently, but growth is not good when all those outsiders you’ve invited in want to see changes to THEIR city.

        McArthur was not appointed Dixie Emperor or Dixie Dictator with everyone having to bow down whenever he sings Dixie. He is Mayor, and barely won at the last elections. Almost 49% of the voters voted against him. So he does not speak for everyone, and as those dang unwanted “outsiders” keep moving here, as is their right, this is their country (not Dixie Dan’s), his squeaky voice will become more silent.

        • Dixie-ites are Unfriendly People December 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm

          Note: the mayor and his ilk make everyone feel unwelcome.

  • WU7171 December 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    There is a petition on change.org that explains why people want the Dixie name to go. Please lend your support if you are willing, or at least look at the information there.


  • Biff December 21, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Attention outsiders! The greatest ambition we locals have for our children is for them to get a bit a schooling at Dixie and then join us in building and selling houses to you heathens. We don’t care if their college degrees come from a school with a name the rest of the country associates with slavery, racism and slack-jawed banjo players — they’re not leaving our beloved Dixie anyway. Please shut up, pay your taxes and let the pioneer royalty make the important decisions.

  • Barbara December 21, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Seems to me the mayor should have created his own cult and his own empire city closed off to the real world, and real world people,…similar to Colorado City/Hildale. It is quite interesting how he promoted and supported the rapid growth when it came to size and that almighty dollar. He’s now realizing growth came with many different aspects, many I’m sure he had no clue would ever exist in ‘his’ so-called Dixie. He wanted to become the bustling small city it is today, but in that vision, his actions speak boldly that he just wanted self-righteous, prophet-fearing individuals living cookie cutter lives in Mormom “wards”. I will always believe that growth, change and outside experience was the BEST thing to happen to this city…

    • Barbara December 21, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      **I meant outside influence, not “experience”

  • George Stoddard December 21, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    How long does one need to reside here before he is considered a resident and not an outsider? Is 15 years sufficient? I was a bit surprised by the parochialism of the Mayor’s comments. Some of us have lived in other parts of the country including the South. Some of us have witnessed the angry hateful response of many during the struggles to integrate the public schools in the fifties and sixties. Some of us have witnessed members of the Ku Klux Klan marching down the main street of our community in the seventies under the banner of the Confederate flag and gathering on the courthouse steps spewing their racial hatred. Some of us have members of our families that have experienced and been affected by the culturally supported discrimination in our society.

    “I’m tired of people coming from outside the area and bringing their prejudice and hates and dislikes and trying to throw it on us,” he said, ”because that’s never been what Dixie’s all about.”

    Some of us resent the Mayor’s comment denigrating our feelings by labeling them “hates and dislikes” that should be rejected and ignored.

    I have no issue with acknowledging the pioneers who settled this area but conflating that heritage with that symbolized by “rebels” and the Confederate banner raises concerns about what meaning local residents give to “Dixie”.

    My strong feelings about the complexity of this nation’s centuries long struggle with our racial history have a basis in personal experience and an understanding of our history that recognizes the need to continuing work to achieve a “More Perfect Union.”

  • Jon L. Ruesch December 22, 2012 at 12:33 am

    “Dixie” is what we make it. Our history and our present makes it very good indeed. If outsiders want to paint the name as a bad thing, it’s simply not true. We don’t have to change for them. We are what we are, whether they want it that way or not. To rebel against tyranny is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. We bow the knee to none but God. Call us rebels if you will. Depending on your point of view, you may be absolutely right. So be it. Sin has its limitations. Righteousness has no limitations. If “Dixieites” are righteous, there’s not a thing opposers can do to limit our potential. If God be with us, who can succeed against us? The human spirit, that knows its true source, doesn’t need to fear tyranny. A “Dixieite” knows the source of true power.

    • Don't wanna be a Dixie-ite December 22, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      So if these so-called “outsiders” don’t want to adopt the cliquish, clannish and closed-minded way of the Dixie-ites, we’re branded as bad? All “outsiders” to include those businesses such as Best Buy, WalMart, Target, Lowes, McDonalds, Burger King, Sears, JCPenney, Maverick….. come here with their hateful and prejudiced attitudes, attempting to change your small-town closed minded ways? These companies are hateful & prejudiced?

      You say history. Okay, where did slave auctions, confederate flags, black faces and confederate soldier play into the establishment of St George 1800’s and when the college was build in the early 1900’s?

  • Brent December 22, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Change in any situation is difficult and takes time. Time for new and old citizens alike to accept that things can’t stay the same for very long. “Locals” from the Dixie area have seen many changes over the past 15 years. Some for the better and some for the worst. It’s difficult to see an “out with the old and in with the new” mentality especially when the old wasn’t all that bad (small town and “do you know…?”) and the new is being pushed under the false guise of enlightenment. Enlightened doesn’t entail a higher plane that everyone else is naive and gullible for not embracing. Enlightenment embodies acceptance and change. There is no deadline or timetable to reach this plane.
    Using the term “Spirit of Dixie” is not meant to be divisive, but inclusive. The division comes when new doesn’t quite understand old and old can’t possibly make new understand what history and change (old) has been like for them. Parents attempt to impart the joys and struggles of their youth on to the their children with little success until the youth gain experience and appreciation from their own experiences and feelings of communal belonging.

  • pete December 22, 2012 at 7:14 am

    wow mayor dan needs to go. its sad this community has supposedly supported the college through thick and thin and now if the name changes all the old timers are going to quit supporting and cry about it? we need a new city leader(without a cult brain) who can lead the city in befriending the college no matter what the name. (hopefully not dixie.)

    and how much luck do we have in changing the name when the college hires a local boy company to do the surveying/recommendation? supposedly sorenson advertising has DSC alumni working for it. not too fair if that is true. not saying anything bad about sorenson advertising, but isnt that a big conflict of interest?

  • Not singin' Dixie December 22, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Anyone who has lived in the “Dixie” states of the southern United States would tend to agree the mentality of some of those “Traditionalists” have very much the same attitude toward blacks as what is discussed in this letter: http://www.boston.com/news/daily/24/delbert_stapley.pdf

    Let’s hope this same mentality is not the basis of Dixie-ites who insist on holding onto this confederate illusion they created for this area. However, as you read that letter, think of those mock slave captures, mock slave slave auctions, blackened faces… inappropriate behaviors for anyone, let alone a school environment, ask yourself just what is the basis for adopting these behaviors into their “heritage”.. Is this how those Dixie-ites want the rest of the country to view them, as they invite them to come to this school and area to live?

  • James December 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Outsiders? I’ve lived in St. George for 15 years and have been exploring the natural wonders of Washington County for 25 years. I pay property taxes and do community service. I would challenge Dan on the history of this area and it’s people any day. Does this make me an ‘outsider’, especially if I think the name ‘Dixie’ is offensive and doesn’t represent the people of this area? Perhaps what Dan meant was if you aren’t one of the good-ole-boys, you are an ‘outsider’. Perhaps it’s time that Dan learned who his constituency really is.

  • Weenie Snitchel December 22, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    It’s simple, like most other members of the mormon church, the mayor does not like you, and/or does not think you’re good enough if you’re not mormon. Most moder day “outsiders” are not mormon. The culture is rapidly diversifying and the mayor and his good ole boys cannot adapt…

  • Sako Sukii December 22, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Here we go, yet a new form of bi-partisan alive and well dividing our community. What else can divide our country, states, counties, cities and neighborhoods? We becoming mo and mo divided and catagorized by the day

  • Peter Wainsworth December 23, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I am disturbed by mayor Dan McArthur’s lack of professionalism on the matter: he strikes me as a bigot. It’s time to do away with the word Dixie, it really is. Racism was institutionalized in the the Mormon organization for a long time, and the effects are obvious when you talk to most Mormons. Although getting rid of this disgusting name will go a long way in improving the area’s image, much of the intolerant racism and backwards thinking that’s so prevalent, will remain.

    • ken December 24, 2012 at 8:38 am

      Do tell how getting rid of the name will improve the areas image, please just state facts not speculation! I find it interesting that the easily offended moved here to live or go to school even thought they knew the area was called Dixie. Then one day the name became racist and other bunk,build the bridge and get over it!

      • Peter Wainsworth December 24, 2012 at 10:26 am

        You are so DENSE: it’s obvious, fool!

  • Wagner December 23, 2012 at 8:24 am

    I’m still mad that I have to pay 6 thousand dollars towards a pipeline to Powell that doesn’t exist and may never. I can’t even start to build my home unless I pay this fee. The pipeline just got voted down again but the citizens of St George are made to pay this stupid fee towards a fictitious pipeline.

    • ken December 24, 2012 at 8:30 am

      And in 15 years Lake Powell will be dry anyway!

  • Carlos Cabrera December 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Vote him out. Very unprofessional of mayor to further divide his citizens and create further hostility and labeling of his citys minorities and new resident. Time are changing, this not the same town it was, not even close.

  • Oprah Brown December 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I, too, am a Saint Georgian, not a so-called Dixie-ite. Do not group me with them!

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