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. The author of this post is Ashe Schow
In March 2020, San Diego State University (SDSU) unveiled its new "racial healing garden"
that was meant to honor Native Americans and the Aztec culture after students complained the school's mascot, and Aztec warrior, was racist.
The healing garden cost $250,000 plus upkeep and yet, nearly two years after it was first built, it remains virtually unused, the College Fix reports. The outlet reported that the garden was "built amid tensions regarding the Aztec warrior mascot, accused of racism, cultural appropriation and toxic masculinity."
A 2018 Aztec Identity Task Force convened by the school reported that the garden would honor Native Americans "at a time when we need to 'heal' over the issue of indigenous identities."
A grand opening was scheduled for the garden's completion, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and several campus sources told the Fix it hasn't been used much since then. One professor told the outlet, "I pass it nearly every day I go to my office. It cost a quarter million dollars, and every day, it's empty."
"There's not a single person sitting on the one bench they installed. So it's a quarter million dollars for ... what precisely? A garden that nobody visits,"
the professor added.
The Fix asked this professor whether medicinal marijuana was being grown in the garden, to which the professor replied: "At least if they grew pot, it would have a use."
The SDSU College Republicans told the Fix that they haven't seen anyone using the garden either.
"We can say will (sic) full confidence that most, if not all, of us at SDSU CR have not noticed the garden being used or enjoyed by anyone,"
the group said in a statement. "It is sad to see such an incredible amount of money spent on something that seems to be forgotten by most of the students of SDSU. This is especially sad because such a project like a garden should foster a positive community environment on campus. We hope to see the university take more steps to encourage engagement with the garden and it's surrounding area."
SDSU's website explained that the "majority of the plants are annuals and will have a seasonal growth period and then go to seed, die down, and return as new plants while the trees and shrubs will grow larger over time and create a space reflective of the natural environment,"
meaning it actually cost more than $250,000 when maintenance is taken into account.
The Fix reported in 2018 that SDSU bowed to activist pressure and softened its mascot from an Aztec Warrior to a "Spirit Leader."
"The Aztec Warrior, similarly a source of pride for the collective majority, will be retained, but as Spirit Leader, not mascot,"
then-interim SDSU President Sally Roush said at the time. "There will be immediate and visible changes in demeanor to achieve a respectful portrayal of a powerful figure from Aztec culture."
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