ST. GEORGE — A debate has been brewing for a while now: Should Dixie State College change its name? Thursday, fuel was added to that fire as a prominent statue of Confederate soldiers was taken down.
The statue, which stood on the campus grounds for 25 years, is comprised of soldiers, a horse and a confederate battle flag. Most formally known as "The Rebels," it had become a symbol of controversy in the midst of the Dixie name debate.
"Students from all over the place, students from here locally, students born and raised here, as well as students from other areas who have felt uncomfortable, intimidated and concerned about this statue," said Danielle Larsen-Rife, assistant professor of psychology at Dixie State.
Not more than a dozen witnessed the removal; some saying administration kept it quiet.
"I believe that they were hoping that no one, not even this small pocket of individuals that are here right now, would have found out about this event," said Gregory Noel, a student at the college.
School administrators have said they're afraid the piece of art could be vandalized. But the man who created it said he's very disappointed with the move.
"I don't really like it," Jerry Anderson said. "I don't like what they're trying to pull. We might as well call it the ‘wuss college' — ‘the college for wusses.'"
Anderson said he doesn't look at the flag. Instead, his work represents love between comrades.
But many eyes on campus see it only fueling a much heated debate.
"This issue, if left not addressed, will foster more issues and more situations and more conflict until it just bursts," Noel said.
Students and staff in support of removing the statue say this is only one step in the right direction. The next would be to change the name of the college; one option is the University of St. George Utah.