On Wednesday, the George Washington University board of trustees announced that it will eventually no longer use the “Colonials” moniker as a nickname and cited the “division among the community about the moniker” as the reason. The nickname has been criticized for its glorification of colonialism.
“The board recognizes the significance of changing the university’s moniker, and we made this decision only after a thoughtful and deliberate process that followed the renaming framework and special committee recommendation that considered the varying perspectives of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and athletics community,” board chair Grace Speights said in the release. “A moniker must unify our community, draw people together and serve as a source of pride. We look forward to the next steps in an inclusive process to identify a moniker that fulfills this aspiration.”
The special committee was formed in the wake of a March 2019 vote by GW’s student body to drop the nickname with 54 percent support. Back in 2018, Alejandra Velazquez wrote a story in the GW Hatchet student newspaper criticizing the Colonials name as “an example of celebrating the colonization of Native Americans and slave ownership.”
George Washington University will cease its use of the Colonials name by the 2023-24 academic year.
The school has used “Colonials” since 1926. The mascot, George, features an enlarged George Washington head and a colonial uniform.
The school has not determined what its new moniker will be, though Wrighton noted the process will involve “extensive community engagement.”