When you hear about high schools or universities trying to ditch their mascots, usually there’s some sort of Native American connection. Team names like the Redskins or Indians have fallen out of favor in recent years with the politically correct crowd and can inspire tons of invective.
But the Colonials? Apparently, for some students at George Washington University, that’s simply too much to bear.
A Change.org petition to change the name of the sports teams at the Washington, D.C. school has gotten a lot play as of late, even though it has under 400 signatures as of Saturday morning.
“We, as students, faculty, and staff of the George Washington University, believe it is of great exigence that the University changes the official nickname for its affiliates,” the petition, which was started last spring, states.
“The use of ‘Colonials,’ no matter how innocent the intention, is received as extremely offensive by not only affiliates of the University, but the nation and world at large. The historically, negatively-charged figure of Colonials has too deep a connection to colonization and glorifies the act of systemic oppression. Alternative nickname recommendations are ‘Hippos’ or ‘Riverhorses.’”
A similar petition launched last year, this one to change the school’s mascot from “Colonials” to “Hippos,” “Revolutionaries” or Riverhorses,” has garnered more than 500 signatures. The Colonials’ current logo includes an illustration of George Washington’s head above the word “Colonials.” Were this petition to succeed, Washington’s head would be replaced. And the student who wears a colonial uniform and a George Washington head at sports games might wear a hippo costume instead.
Now I understand why “Colonials” isn’t exactly an intimidating nickname. But “Hippos?” Yes, they can be dangerous, but the fat ungulates don’t exactly inspire fear in anyone. As for “Riverhorses,” that sounds like a bad album title.
However, there is a reason for the hippo nickname. According to George Washington University’s school newspaper, The Hatchet, a statue of a hippopotamus was brought to the school back in 2000.
While both petitions have less than 1,000 signatures combined at the moment, Campus Reform went to George Washington and found out that some students still thought the “Colonials” name/mascot was what a sociology professor might call “problematic.”
“I think it’s more so that there are students on this campus that don’t feel comfortable with it and so it doesn’t really matter what other students think if it makes students uncomfortable,” one student remarked.
“I think that like, the whole, like, Colonial thing is like, a little white supremacist-y,” another said. “And I think, like, a hippo would be a better mascot.”
Some students went even further when they weren’t being interviewed by Campus Reform.
“It’s very wrong for us to call ourselves an open and welcoming university when the name means such demise and terror for students who could possibly come here,” Andrew Hesbacher told The Hatchet last May.
“Colonialist, terrorist, murderer. In a lot of places that’s what colonials mean to people,” he added. “Why would we continue to call ourselves that?”
Well, because it’s served as the nickname for the school’s athletic teams since 1926 and because it references colonial America, an area that was, well, colonized. But actually, it’s referencing the exact opposite of colonization. In fact, George Washington was an OG when it came to decolonization.
If it weren’t for Abraham Lincoln, Washington would unquestionably be our nation’s greatest figure. Even with Lincoln, there’s still a debate. The only context behind the name is honoring the university’s namesake, not to mention the other founding fathers who risked their lives to free us from British rule. A minute’s worth of thought would establish this.
Apparently, a minute’s worth of thought is a bit too much for students so ensconced in politically correct culture they can’t see the word “colonial” as anything other than a symbol of oppression.
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