New motto not so great

Jonathan Willett

Jonathan WillettColumnist

Driving home from Brookings after finals last month, I was traveling down Interstate 29 when I found myself being mocked by a succession of SDSU billboards. While I realize that our school’s motto was officially changed last semester, I never really noticed how terribly our university is represented by the new motto.

First of all, let me say that I was not a fan of the old motto either. “You can go anywhere from here,” with its double meaning and University of Phoenix/ECPI sound does not perpetuate the idea of elevated thought and learning, but rather that college is simply a means to an end, rather than a means of personal growth and academic study that not all people have access to.

However, “Be great. Start here,” simply sounds like the tagline for a Honey Nut Cheerios commercial. Could we have asked for anything more generic sounding? I don’t see how we could. Our slogan may as well be, “SDSU, We’re a College.” How can we as students take any pride in our school when it seems so clear that administration is trying to remove or quash what individually defines us as an institute of higher learning?

Just comparing us to a few other universities that should be regarded as our peers shows a discrepancy in representation. USD has the motto of “Veritas,” (truth), while my undergraduate alma mater uses “lux, libertas” (light and liberty). University of Minnesota’s motto is “Commune vinculum omnibus artibus” (A common bond for all the arts). Even Northern State University has a more descriptive, unifying motto in “Be you, be us, be Northern,” or their old objectives printed on their seal, “Teaching Research Service.”

We should have a motto that is historic and meaningful to get behind as a student body full of pride for our institution, but until we represent ourselves as an individual university we won’t be able to have the same pride as other schools. There are so many aspects of SDSU that are unique and meaningful that I find it hard to believe that “Be great. Start here” is the most representative central idea for our community.

So as not to complain without providing solutions, I would suggest looking to our past as a land-grant university and agricultural innovator, our present as the largest and fastest growing university in the state, and our future that we can literally see being built around us. All of these images and ideals can be called upon to generate a truly representative motto that we as a student body can take pride in.

By no means am I suggesting that to be a respected institute of higher learning one must represent themselves with Greek or Latin phrases. However, I feel that it would only serve to benefit us as an academic community to have a meaningful motto that represents the individual university we are.

Jonathan is an English graduate student. Contact him at [email protected].