What’s in a nickname? To some at George Washington College, the near-century previous “Colonials” celebrates imperialism and must go.
Some college students on the Washington D.C. college are pushing to alter the Colonials moniker, which for many years has been the identify of the school’s sports activities groups and its well being heart.
The scholar-led push to alter the nickname began in Might of final 12 months after a petition was signed by 538 college college students. The petition mentioned Colonials was “extraordinarily offensive by not solely college students of the college, however the nation and world at massive.”
The varsity’s Scholar Affiliation, the scholar governing physique, final month handed a decision calling a referendum that will let all present college students resolve “whether or not or not the Colonials moniker is one which represents GW college students.”
Critics name the hassle to alter the identify misguided.
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCOREBOARD CRASHES ONTO BASKETBALL COURT
“The identify Colonials is being stripped of its personal historic which means and wrongly handled as synonymous with ‘colonialism,” mentioned George Washington regulation professor Jonathan Turley. “Not solely had been the colonials not a manifestation or celebration of colonialism, they had been the very image of resistance to colonialism. They fought the British Empire to safe self-rule. In doing so, they defeated the best world energy of its time.”
Turley mentioned the colonials fought towards overseas rule.
“They’re,” he mentioned, “by definition the antithesis of colonialism.”
Various monikers which were bandied about embody “Hippos,” “Riverhorses” and “Revolutionaries.”
The college, which modified its identify from Columbian College to George Washington College in 1904, has had its “Colonials” nickname since 1926. GW’s colours are buff-and-blue to resemble George Washington’s Continental military uniform.
Amy Martin, a scholar authorities senator who sponsored the decision to alter the identify, known as the time period “extraordinarily offensive.”
“A ‘Colonial’ is an actor of colonialism,” she mentioned. “Even once we hear individuals say colonials are simply individuals who lived in colonies, we now have to contemplate how these colonies had been arrange and who lived there earlier than [and] who was kicked out so the colonists might transfer in.”
Martin mentioned the nickname not solely disregards the struggling of native individuals previously, but additionally the emotions of marginalized college students proper now.
“We have to hearken to who feels disenfranchised by this time period,” she mentioned.
Michael LaPlace, an alumnus of the college, informed Fox Information that he thinks the nickname is nice as a result of it “ties into the college’s namesake.” He mentioned he has seen Fb posts from some GW alumni which might be within the navy.
“They be aware that they really feel honored to have Colonials as their mascot,” LaPlace mentioned. “Colonials had been America’s first troopers and thus our first veterans. How will you not be proud to be related to our first veterans?”
Jake Corsi, who can be a scholar senator, mentioned the hassle to alter the identify “might be simply described as nothing greater than a pet venture of two far-left [Student Assembly] senators.”
He mentioned he doubts the hassle to alter the identify has widespread help.
“It represents a statistically minority of scholars. Out of the 26,000 college students that attend GW, solely 500 plus college students signed the petition,” he mentioned.
However it has gotten some help from college members. A historical past professor, Denver Brunsman, wrote an op-ed within the college’s faculty newspaper, The Hatchet, that mentioned: “I can confidently say that Washington by no means known as himself a “Colonial.”
Turley, a critic of the identify change, mentioned irrespective of how individuals really feel in regards to the situation, he does agree it’s an attention-grabbing dialog to have.
“This can be a priceless dialogue,” he mentioned, “to have on the faculty.”
The scholar physique is about to vote on the referendum the final week of March.