George Washington University to Discontinue Using “Colonials” Name, Officials Say It No Longer Unifies Campus

The George Washington University

The George Washington University will stop using the “Colonials” name by 2023/24 academic year, a nickname used by university’s athletic teams since 1926, due to inclusivity concerns, the Board of Trustees has decided.

University officials announced that the decision was made based on the recommendation of the Special Committee on the Colonials Moniker, reports.

According to a university statement, both the board and the special community agreed that the name no longer serves the university’s purpose as a unifying name, considering the division among members of the community about the moniker.

Board Chair Grace Speights, J.D. ’82, said that the board had made the decision after a thoughtful and planned process that took place based on special committee recommendation and the renaming framework as well as after taking into account different opinions of George Washington University students, alumni, faculty, staff, and athletic team members.

“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,” Speights said.

President Mark S. Wrighton mentioned the collaborative approach of the university as it decided to drop moniker, adding that the process was driven by research and engagement with community members.

Wrighton noted that George Washington University is entering its third century; therefore, he emphasized that it should continue leading with its values, strengths and the diversity.

According to him, although some may not agree with the results, changing the name is the right decision for the university.

Provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, Christopher Alan Bracey, highlighted the university’s 200-year history, also stating that the moniker no longer serves the university’s values.

“Today, the moniker no longer does the work that a moniker should—namely, unifying the campus behind our academic and athletic institutional aspirations,” Bracey added.

George Washington University will continue to use “Colonials” until 2023/24, when a new name is expected to be introduced.

Back in November 2019, the “Colonials” name was a matter of concern among community members following the board’s creation of a Task Force on Naming.

In 2020, President Emeritus Thomas LeBlanc brought together a Special Committee on the Colonials Moniker, which would provide recommendations to the Board of Trustees and assess whether the name should be changed. As the university notes, part of the community were representatives from faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as athletics and subject-matter expert advisers.

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