SALT LAKE CITY — Braving cold and rainy weather, people with strong opinions on changing the name of Dixie State University traveled from southern Utah to the capitol Tuesday morning.
WATCH: Utah higher education commission approves Dixie State name change
Lawmakers are close to formally changing the name of the school to Utah Tech University during the special legislative session.
Student athlete Deven Osborne says negative association around the Dixie name made it difficult when he was recruited to play football.
“The Dixie name definitely turned off a lot of family members. It was rough for them,“ said Osborne.
Supporters say ‘Dixie’ is linked to the South, Civil War and Confederacy. They argue changing the name would make it easier to recruit and retain students.
“I love the way our leaders run the state. It’s forward looking to the future and I hope they keep the trend with this decision as well,” said student Guillem Parra.
“It feels like they are ripping out my insides,” Belaine Turnbull said.
READ: Threats, attacks mar search for new Dixie State name
Opponents insist the name harkens back to Mormon pioneers who settled in St. George to grow cotton.
“For us, Dixie is a cultural thing. A thing to be proud of. It is not racist in any way,” said Turnbull.
On Tuesday, the Higher Education Interim Committee took public comment on the bill to change the name to Utah Tech University.
“We found there was a problem. Once you see there is a problem you need to act on it,” said Dixie State University President Richard Williams in the hearing.
“You’re going to create a problem that does not exist right now,” said Washington Co. Commissioner Victor Iverson testified.
A vote to change the name could come during this week’s special session, according to bill sponsor Rep. Kelly Miles, who believes he has enough votes to have it pass.
“It’s time to change. In order for us to be progressive and a top tier city in the state of Utah, we need this change,” said Osborne.
“We’d be extremely disappointed. That’s not what we signed up for. Nobody wants it to change. Everybody likes it the way it is,” Kanton Vause said.
Governor Spencer Cox says he will sign the bill if it is passed by the legislature.