Another US institution changes name over ‘inclusivity’ concerns
George Washington University has announced its intention to drop the 'Colonials' moniker attached to its sports teams amid concerns from the school’s board of trustees that it fails to meet their standards of inclusivity.
The nickname has been associated with the collegiate institution since 1926 but it said on Wednesday that it had begun the process to move away from the name in 2019 after determining that it “can no longer serve its purpose as a name that unifies.”
The decision follows moves from the likes of the NFL team formerly known as the Washington Redskins changing its name to the Commanders, while MLB team Cleveland Guardians also dropped its prior 'Indians' name in recent times.
The university added that it “found that the Colonials moniker does not adequately match the values of GW and can no longer serve its purpose as a name that unifies the community,” and also said that when the name was chosen nearly a century ago the decision wasn't given the necessary “thoughtful university-wide consideration.”
The declaration from George Washington University also addressed people who see no issue with the name, saying that they understand it can be seen as a token of remembrance to those in the now United States who fought for independence.
However, they also admit that to its detractors, “Colonials means colonizers who stole land and resources from Indigenous groups, killed or exiled Native peoples and introduced slavery into the colonies.”
They said that there is evidence that George Washington himself objected to the term, and that it only became popular in the 19th and 20th centuries.
“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,” a representative of the university said in a statement.
“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 fulfils this aspiration.”
A new nickname will be revealed prior to the 2023-24 academic year.
“As GW embarks on its third century, this is a tremendous opportunity for the university to evolve and create a moniker that the GW community can rally around,” they added.