The University of New Mexico is changing its seal from the current interim design, but this time, the school is seeking input from its student and alumni population.
Prior to 2016, protests arose — primarily from Native American student groups such as Kiva Club and The Red Nation — regarding the previous seal, which featured a conquistador brandishing a sword and a rifle-carrying frontiersman. Many students expressed discomfort with this seal due to New Mexico’s violent history that ensued from Spanish exploration.
The discourse for a new seal culminated in the suspension of UNM’s previous seal in 2016. Shortly afterwards, the Board of Regents passed a resolution directing the Provost to formulate a committee for designing and selecting a new University seal. In the meantime, an interim seal with the University’s name and founding date was and is being utilized.
Currently, UNM is encouraging students to rank their favorite seals based on five options — four finalists submitted by local artists and the interim seal. The seals feature diverse designs, from a howling lobo to the sun setting over the Sandia Mountains to the university’s name and founding date in various fonts.
Lorena Blanco-Silva, the director of UNM’s Division for Equity and Inclusion, explained how the committee selected the four finalists.
“We did a blind review of all the submissions before narrowing the selection down to four designs,” she said. “The ranking process is important too. Because the Board of Regents will ultimately select the new design, we want to give them recommendations based on community input gathered from the rankings.”
According to Blanco-Silva, the committee made selections based on “how aesthetically pleasing they were, if the accompanying statements of intent were met, and how well they would represent all of the University’s campuses.”
Caleb Brenden, the artist of one of the final four seals and a UNM undergraduate in his fourth year, expressed elation at being selected.
“Regardless of the outcome, I already feel very proud to have my design considered and reviewed by the UNM community,” he said.
Brenden chose to submit a seal attempt because he viewed the endeavor as a way to exercise his newly fostered passion for graphic design. He said he considers the experience to be both a positive challenge for his creative vision as well as an opportunity to represent the university through his unique skill set.
Blanco-Silva said she believes that the decision to change the seal holds great priority when respecting the wishes of UNM’s student population.
“If the community finds the previous seal to be offensive, then it shouldn’t be featured on diplomas or caps and gowns,” she said. “The seal should be reflective of every single student at UNM. It is our job to be sensitive and responsive to this truth.”
Brenden agreed and said, “I am happy that UNM, in the search for a seal that was more inclusive and more representative of the values of the university, has included the public in both the creation and review of a new seal.”
The deadline for public input regarding the five seals has been extended to February 7. Interested students can refer to sealdesign.unm.edu to rank their preferred designs. In addition to Brenden, the artists whose designs were selected are George Douglas Brown III, Albert Lozoya, and Enrico Trujillo.
Beatrice Nisoli is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo and can be contacted at email@example.com or on twitter @BeatriceNisoli