Thursday, December 6, 2012

Intollerance and Ignorance Causes Removal of Statue

Confederate statue removed at DSC Officials feared artwork might be damaged
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2012

 Confederate statue removed: A statue on Dixie State College’s campus depicting two Confederate soldiers carrying a Confederate flag was removed Thursday afternoon. Emotions varied from excitement to shock Thursday afternoon when Dixie State College removed a Confederate soldier statue that stood in front of the Avenna Center.

The statue, created by local artist Jerry Anderson, depicted a Confederate soldier on a horse reaching his hand out to a wounded soldier, with a Confederate flag in the background. Former alumni president Connor Shakespeare said he was “sad” the statue was taken off the campus. “I didn’t look at it with two Confederate soldiers; I saw the greatest act of service one could render to another human being, and it was a pure form of self-sacrifice having one fellow soldier risking his life for another,” Shakespeare said. “It’s too bad that there are individuals that felt otherwise. The only thing they saw was the Confederate flag instead of reading the poem or looking at it as a piece of art.”

For others, the Confederate statue was a sign of racism and discrimination. “I think if we’re going to be a university, we need to cater to everyone’s feelings and not just to the community,” DSC student Ryan Mayfield said. “I think it’s really cool to be here and see it leave; I think it’s a big day in Dixie’s history.”

Mayor Dan McArthur said it is “too bad it came down.” “To see that is kind of like ripping the heart out of us,” McArthur said. “I still think the piece of artwork was well-done.”

DSC student Kourtni Mietchen also was “glad” to see the statue moved. “I think it’s the good direction that Dixie needs to go in,” Mietchen said. “It just offended a lot of people.” DSC public relations director Steve Johnson said the decision to remove the statue was made Wednesday by DSC president Stephen Nadauld, who has been discussing the removal of the statue with administrators. In the wake of a protest at the statue last week, school officials expressed concern that the piece might be damaged. “It’s a valuable piece of art, even though we understand it has been a focal point of contention as part of this university naming process over the last couple of weeks,”

Johnson said. The discussion to remove the statue began once administrators became aware that “people had issues with it being on our campus,” Johnson said. The discussion has surfaced in connection with Dixie State College preparing to be elevated to university status, which is expected to happen early next year. School officials are also exploring a possible name change. The fate of the statue is still in question, as the statue was originally donated in the late 1980s when the current DSC Avenna Center was the Dixie Convention Center. “The statue was donated to the city and county when that area was the Dixie Convention Center,” Johnson said. “When the Dixie Convention Center south of town was built, everybody moved from (the Avenna Center), and the state then acquired that property. (The state) made it into the Smith Computer Center, the Avenna Center and the Cox auditorium, but the statue remained.”

Johnson said it is unclear who owns the statue, but the college has been in contact with the St. George city attorney’s office to determine who owns the piece. “Until we find out who owns it, we decided to take it down to protect it because it’s worth tens of thousands of dollars,” Johnson said. “We don’t want anything to happen to the statue or the integrity of the statue because the college doesn’t want to be monetarily responsible.”

The statue will be removed from DSC’s campus and put into storage until it is decided who owns it.“You can understand our sensitivity for wanting to protect the statue because a local Washington County resident created it,” Johnson said. “You can understand our sensitivity for wanting to protect the statue because a local Washington County resident created it,” Johnson said.