When you think you’ve heard it all, just remember that you haven’t.
Some students at Washington, DC’s George Washington University have been pushing to change their school’s moniker because they say the “Colonials” name does not represent who they are “to the world at large.”
At the time the petition was started last year, here’s what students said about the name:
Student Rachel Yakobashvili created a petition on Change.org that states, “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 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.”
The GW Hatchet, the student newspaper, quoted sophomore Andrew Hesbacher as saying, “Colonialist, terrorist, murderer. In a lot of places that’s what colonials mean to people. Why would we continue to call ourselves that?”
The university has had the “Colonials” nickname since 1926. Here was the rationale given for it at the time:
What name could be more fitting? 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. George Washington University, in its antecedents, is a colonial school. Dating back to very early post-Revolutionary days, it 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.”
According to a Fox News report over the weekend, the Student Association approved a resolution in late February allowing for a student referendum on “whether or not the Colonials moniker is one that represents GW students.”
George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley was quoted in that report saying the students who are on board with changing the name are misguided and ill-informed:
“The name Colonials is being stripped of its own historical meaning and wrongly treated as synonymous with ‘colonialism,” said George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley. “Not only were the colonials not a manifestation or celebration of colonialism, they were the very symbol of resistance to colonialism. They fought the British Empire to secure self-rule. In doing so, they defeated the greatest world power of its time.”
Turley said the colonials fought against foreign rule.
“They are,” he said, “by definition the antithesis of colonialism.”
Over 25,000 students attend the university, but not very many have signed the petition.
At least they’re getting to vote on it. All students will vote on the possibility of a name change later this month.
—Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–
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