Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Lobo The Independent Voice of UNM since 1895
Latest Issue
Read our print edition on Issuu

UNM report recommends 'more inclusive' changes to University seal

A report by the UNM Division for Equity and Inclusion is recommending that UNM administration consider a change to the University’s official seal, following a campaign by local groups to abolish it due to its allegedly offensive imagery.

In addition to suggesting that the seal be changed with “something more inclusive, aspirational (and) honoring diversity,” the report recommends a plan be developed that allows graduating students to opt out of wearing the seal, as well as providing the opportunity to get a new diploma that doesn’t bear the image.

The division compiled feedback from multiple forums that have been held in recent months to gather opinions on the seal. The division’s report — which will be presented to the Board of Regents Academic/Student Affairs and Research Committee on Thursday — begins by acknowledging that the seal’s nature has been questioned “for years.”

UNM Kiva Club and Red Nation — two groups that advocate for Native American issues — led the charge this time around, with a campaign that started in March. Since then the two groups have been very outspoken about their initiative at events both on and off campus, including a protest outside Scholes Hall that resulted in the presentation of a petition and a list of demands to UNM President Bob Frank.

The majority of the input came from students, as well as UNM staff, faculty and alumni. The report includes several comments collected through that outreach. While it doesn’t explicitly state whether they came from a student or other facet of University life, one comment in particular summarizes the argument of the anti-seal campaign.

“The current seal suggests nothing about UNM being an institution of learning,” the comment reads. “It suggests preoccupation with a violent local past that isn’t even directly related to the institution.”

Still other nameless comments included in the report show that others have no problem with the seal, including one that read, “The seal accurately depicts the culture that NM embraced.”

Among the dominant conclusions that came out of the forums and analysis of community input, there is also a clash of ideologies, suggesting that compromise on a potential new seal might be difficult.

According to the report, in analyzing the feedback, the Division for Equity and Inclusion found that many believe changing the seal would be ignoring a significant part of history that “can be used as a teaching moment.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, another theme that emerged in the report is that many others believe that the seal should not serve as a reminder of “a painful and violent history toward Native Americans,” especially when considering the seal’s focus on “White European colonizers and aggressors.”

The report also found that the logistics of changing the seal would pose an issue, and that changing the current seal – which was adopted in 1969 – would disrupt UNM tradition.

At the forums, several suggestions provided potential seal revisions, including additions of New Mexico landscapes such as the Rio Grande River, a Zia symbol and a roadrunner. Many also advocated for the addition of education-oriented symbols.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Get content from The Daily Lobo delivered to your inbox

According to University documents, UNM’s earliest known symbol from the late 1800s featured an eagle with “1889,” the University’s founding date, and the words “Vita Lux Hominum,” which means “Light the life of man” in Latin.

It wasn’t until 1923 that the seal took on a design featuring a conquistador and a frontiersman — two figures that have endured for nearly a century and have, until now, survived criticism.

David Lynch is the editor-in-chief at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Daily Lobo