After years of protests from George Washington University student activists, who argued the “Colonials” moniker glorified “colonialism, slavery and racial discrimination,” the Board of Trustees recently approved a new nickname: “Revolutionaries.”
Beginning in the 2023-24 academic year, Revolutionaries will serve as the official university moniker, and over the summer officials “will develop the visual identity for the Revolutionaries moniker and begin the process of bringing it to life on athletic uniforms, campus signage and merchandise,” the university announced in late May.
Asked to weigh in on the change, renowned George Washington University law Professor Jonathan Turley said the new name cuts two ways.
“Rather than stand with the historical meaning of ‘the Colonials,’ the university elected to choose a largely inexplicable nickname of ‘The Revolutionaries.’ The challenge will be actually showing your ‘revolutionary’ school spirit. Since tricorn hats appear out of fashion, it is not clear if the school will dress up as Che Guevara at the next basketball game,” Turley told The College Fix via email.
Victoria Carlson, a spokesperson for the George Washington University College Republicans, also expressed concern over the change.
“A GW Hatchet article from 1904 describes the school colors as ‘colonial buff and blue.’ The Colonials represented an important aspect of our school’s history and paid homage to the original Americans who fought for independence and democracy,” Carlson told The College Fix via email.
“GW’s adoption of the ‘Revolutionaries’ is indicative of the university’s slide down the slippery slope of political correctness. Changing this part of our history opens the door to potentially changing the name of the school, which College Republicans vehemently oppose.”
At one point, some students actively supported changing the school moniker to the “hippos.” It was among several under contention.
Revolutionaries was selected after collecting input from students, staff and alumni via “online engagement forms, confidential focus groups, and community-ranking activities, ensuring diverse perspectives were considered in selecting the new moniker,” the GW Hatchet reported.
GWU’s longtime mascot, “George,” will continue to symbolize the university at athletic and community gatherings, showcasing the iconic George Washington head and colonial attire, the student newspaper reported.
At least one center-right group said that while the change does represent capitulation to the cancel culture mob, the new nickname seems accurate.
“While the old moniker was nowhere near the top of the list of measures the university needed to act upon, Revolutionaries is a nonpartisan, and frankly, accurate representation of the GW student body,” a GWU Turning Point USA chapter representative told The College Fix.
“Activism is in this generation’s blood, though the moniker alludes to the American Revolutionaries who freed this country from a king. It’s important to remember the latter of course, because without which, the former cannot take place.”
The change comes after years of protests and complaints. In June 2022, GWU announced it would change its name to “unify” the campus community.
The Colonials nickname had been used since 1926. But a 2018 petition argued the Colonials nickname had “too deep a connection to colonization and glorifies the act of systemic oppression.”