George Washington University Decolonizes Itself by Displacing Its Mascot

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

George Washington University is a sensitive school. Therefore, the institution has made a conscientious change: Its mascot of nearly 100 years is officially #canceled.


In 1926, GWU was focus-deficient. As noted by an October piece in the school paper, several nicknames were associated:

  • Hatchets
  • Hatchetmen
  • Hatchetites
  • Axemen
  • Tongmen
  • Crummen

The editorial asserted those failed to “carry the dignity that [the athletic teams] should bear.”

What might confer such suitable prestige? The paper made a proposal:

In the place of the names, the University Hatchet suggests the use of the connotation “Colonials” for the teams of the Buff and Blue.

“What name could be more fitting?” the article asked. “This, the school named after George Washington, and having as its colors the Continental Army buff and blue, the colors of Colonial America, should be entitled to bear the name of “Colonials” if any school is so entitled.”

It was an issue of precious heritage:

Dating back to very early post-Revolutionary days, [GWU] was founded when the term “colonial” still applied to an era which was then passing. Let us then, in just regard for our precious heritage, adopt as the name for the warriors wearing the Buff and Blue the term “Colonials.”

These days, we’re promoting a new precious heritage: that of disregarding precious heritage. Culture’s cutting-edge approach to history is unmistakably minimalist. Our new mantra: Out with the old.

Hence, in November 2019, a search began. Beyond the initial launch of a “task force on naming,” amid 2020’s riots, a new group emerged. At the order of then-university President Thomas LeBlanc, the Special Committee on the Colonials Moniker was formed.


From The Washington Examiner:

“The committee took its role seriously, reviewing relevant historical research and soliciting feedback widely to produce a report…recognizing the division among the community with respect to the moniker,” Mary Cheh, the chairwoman of the special committee, said. “Ultimately, we determined a new moniker would help support unity in our community.”

Would unity really result if half the school opposed a change?

Allegedly, the dividing line demarcated disparate definitions:

“The special committee identified a significant difference in connotation for the term Colonials,” the university said. “For supporters, the term refers to those who lived in the American colonies, especially those who fought for independence and democracy. For opponents, Colonials means colonizers who stole land and resources from indigenous groups, killed or exiled Native peoples and introduced slavery into the colonies. These are perspectives that cannot be easily harmonized, the committee concluded.”

Additionally, the adoption of “Colonials” had been carried out “casually and haphazardly” — absent of “thoughtful university-wide consideration.”

Finally, the college claims George Washington himself disfavored the word.

Thus, the near-century-old name will be exiled itself — as one more casualty in our era of moniker makeovers:


Another One Bites the Dust: Goodbye, Dixie State University

Lady Antebellum Changes Their Name, Apologizes for Making Anyone Feel ‘Unsafe’

James Madison College Considers a New Name, Admits It’s ‘Riven by Policies and Practices That Disadvantage People of Color’

Revolution: To Fight Racial Injustice, the US Army Will Rename Nine Historic Bases

We Are So Pathetic: School in Virginia Considers Dropping the Wasp as Its Mascot Due to the White People Acronym

Concerning “Colonials,” GWU Law Professor Jonathan Turley is unimpressed with the undoing.

“The university says that the term no longer reflects the school’s values,” he noted online, “which no longer appears to include historical accuracy.”

“The Colonials fought against foreign rule. They were not advocates of colonization. For those interested in GW, that understanding was apparent by even a cursory review our history.”

On the new-mascot short list: Riverhorse and Hippo.

Amid “uninformed and inaccurate objections,” Jonathan has an idea:

“We will come up with a new moniker, though some students proposed one based on the Hippo statue (installed in 1996). Of course, we could then be called the ‘hippocrites’ without the cost of a publicity firm.”

As for evaluating mascots in modern America, it seems there’s a lack of consistency prominently at play: According to our best and wokest, a name such as “Indians” can’t be used because it insults American Indians. Simultaneously, “Colonials” can’t be used because it champions colonizers. Hopefully, in due time we’ll sort out which one should render us irate.


Meanwhile, there’s a much broader problem at GWU: The school remains named after George Washington.



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