ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico's official seal depicting a Spanish conquistador and a frontiersman is drawing accusations of racism from Native American students.
Native American students in the Kiva Club as well as members of advocacy group The Red Nation call the seal offensive, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
The seal is stamped on all diplomas and is present at most school events.
Oceti Sakowin tribe member and UNM doctoral student Nick Estes designed his own version of the seal in protest, with the conquistador and frontiersman standing atop a pile of bones. He spoke at an organizing meeting for students against the current seal, saying it represents racism at the school.
"To have this on my diploma is an insult of the highest order," Estes said.
University President Bob Frank said he'd be open to discussing the students' ideas. He earned degrees from the institution in the 1970s.
"It's a seal I have always known," Frank said. "I certainly understand that people may have different points of view. If they want to talk about it, I am open to the conversation."
The university's diversity council and Jozi de Leon, its vice president for equity and inclusion, are taking steps to work with the concerned students.
De Leon attended a meeting where students talked about their problems with the seal.
"This is a university," de Leon said. "This is the place where we should be having this kind of dialogue. We should be open to listening to the concerns of the students."
The students have started a petition opposing the seal, but no official complaint has been filed with the university.