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 vary the Colonials moniker, which for many years has been the title of the school’s sports activities groups and its well being heart.
The coed-led push to vary the nickname began in Might of final yr after a petition was signed by 538 college college students. The petition stated Colonials was “extraordinarily offensive by not solely college students of the college, however the nation and world at giant.”
The college’s Scholar Affiliation, the scholar governing physique, final month handed a decision calling a referendum that may 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 vary the title misguided.
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“The title Colonials is being stripped of its personal historic which means and wrongly handled as synonymous with ‘colonialism,” stated George Washington legislation professor Jonathan Turley. “Not solely have been the colonials not a manifestation or celebration of colonialism, they have 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 stated the colonials fought towards international rule.
“They’re,” he stated, “by definition the antithesis of colonialism.”
Various monikers which have been bandied about embody “Hippos,” “Riverhorses” and “Revolutionaries.”
The college, which modified its title 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 pupil authorities senator who sponsored the decision to vary the title, known as the time period “extraordinarily offensive.”
“A ‘Colonial’ is an actor of colonialism,” she stated. “Even once we hear folks say colonials are simply individuals who lived in colonies, we’ve got to contemplate how these colonies have been arrange and who lived there earlier than [and] who was kicked out so the colonists might transfer in.”
Martin stated the nickname not solely disregards the struggling of native folks up to now, but additionally the sentiments of marginalized college students proper now.
“We have to hearken to who feels disenfranchised by this time period,” she stated.
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 stated he has seen Fb posts from some GW alumni which are within the navy.
“They word that they really feel honored to have Colonials as their mascot,” LaPlace stated. “Colonials have 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 also be a pupil senator, stated the hassle to vary the title “might be simply described as nothing greater than a pet mission of two far-left [Student Assembly] senators.”
He stated he doubts the hassle to vary the title 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 stated.
But it surely 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 stated: “I can confidently say that Washington by no means known as himself a “Colonial.”
Turley, a critic of the title change, stated regardless of how folks really feel in regards to the subject, he does agree it’s an fascinating dialog to have.
“It is a beneficial dialogue,” he stated, “to have on the faculty.”
The coed physique is about to vote on the referendum the final week of March.