Axios Salt Lake City

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Today's newsletter is 913 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Our subdued college protest culture

Protesters are detained Wednesday at the University of Texas-Austin as demonstrations spread among U.S. college campuses in response to the war in Gaza. Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images

While campus protests reach a fever pitch nationwide over U.S. policy in the Middle East, most Utah students are going to class as usual.

Why it matters: Utah has the youngest population of any state and the second-highest number of enrolled college students per capita — demographics that normally are ripe for political demonstration.

Yes, but: Quad lawns from Logan to St. George are occupied by springtime fun, and almost all the biggest protests since October have gathered off-campus.

There are several reasons Utah's halls of higher learning aren't part of the fervor:

Culture of obedience

Utahns are widely seen as non-confrontational, conformist and deferential to authority — qualities unlikely to generate robust activism.

  • "A lot of the culture of Utah tends to be pretty docile," said En Canada, a Palestinian activist who organized protests at Salt Lake City Council meetings and has worked with student organizers.
  • "That 'agreeable' culture leads to things being more quiet."

What they're saying: Utah "tends to view civil disobedience as criminal, whereas a lot of other places view civil disobedience as a part of a functioning democratic society," Canada told Axios, contrasting Salt Lake with New England, where they grew up.

What's next: Because the community is so put off by disruption, Canada says they're considering new advocacy tactics, trading mass demonstrations for a more intimate door-knocking campaign.

School crackdowns

A pro-Palestine movement started to emerge last fall at the U., but school officials revoked sponsorship of the organizing group, MECHA, on the same day its members led a walkout.

Zoom out: BYU has implemented rules to limit campus protests in response to student LGBTQ+ advocacy.

More reasons below...

2. Realities of student life shift activism off campus

Protesters rally Jan. 21 in Park City. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Utah universities tend to serve different populations, in conditions much different than those of the schools where protests are escalating.

Commuters and worker bees

Utah students tend to spend less time on campus, which makes organizing more difficult. Multiple reports show Utah students are also far more likely to work during college than students nationally.

  • At four-year colleges nationally, about 37% of full-time undergrads live on campus, according to federal data.
  • In Utah, that's closer to 20%, according to data Axios obtained from multiple schools.

Religious and ancestral proximity

Of Utah's 3.3 million people, only about 6,000 are Jewish. Another 9,000 reported Arab ancestry, with fewer than 400 Palestinian descendants, according to census data.


Most of Utah's largest universities are tucked up against mountains, with limited transit and visibility from the larger community.

  • The biggest ongoing college protests nationally are on campuses in denser, urban neighborhoods, making them more prominent gathering places.
  • Rather than protest on campus, Utah students frequently join broader public protests at civic buildings and other central locations.

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3. Fry Sauce: Iron County will get a new mascot

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🏫 Iron County School District will ditch a former mascot widely known as a racial slur for Native Americans after the school board voted 4-3 not to reinstate it. (Salt Lake Tribune)

About 120,000 chickens were killed Tuesday in a big barn fire at Oakdell Egg Farms in Cache Valley. (FOX 13)

  • The cause of the fire is under investigation.

📝 Gov. Spencer Cox joined a coalition of GOP governors last week in opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new rule to limit fine particles in the air, saying the measure will harm rural residents. (Utah News Dispatch)

4. Weekend Mixtape

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

From enjoying cocktails to learning how to foster newborn kittens, there's something for everyone in Salt Lake City this weekend.

🍷 Lounge at Drift

Sip on sangrias at one of our favorite cocktail bars in town.

Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 4pm-11pm; Friday-Saturday 4pm-1am

Where: Drift Lounge at Woodbine Food Hall (545 W. 700 S., Suite 100)

🐱 Fostering kittens

Best Friends Adoption Center is holding its semi-annual classes geared toward caring for infant kittens up to a month old.

When: Saturday and Sunday, April 27–28 from 11am to 3pm

Where: Best Friends Adoption Center (2005 S. 1100 E.)

Admission: Free

🇲🇽 Luis Miguel concert

One of Latin music's biggest artists, Luis Miguel, aptly called the "sun of Mexico," will belt out hits from his storied career.

When: Sunday, April 28 at 8pm

Where: Delta Center

Admission: Tickets start at $81 before fees

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5. Photos: Fans meet new NHL team

(Left photo) Members of Utah's NHL team land at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Wednesday, April 24. (Right photo) Hundreds of fans gather at the Delta Center to greet Utah's new NHL team on Wednesday, April 24. Courtesy: Smith Entertainment Group

Utah's new NHL team received a warm welcome from fans yesterday at the Salt Lake City International Airport and the Delta Center.

Why it matters: It's the soon-to-be-named team's first trip to Salt Lake City after being sold to Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith for a reported $1.2 billion.

🦀 Kim appreciates her friends at Axios Seattle for giving top-notch recommendations while she's in town.

😻 Erin is done building her second catio!

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Natasha Danielle Smith and Yasmeen Altaji.