The college sports teams known as the George Washington Colonials will soon be renamed.
According to The Associated Press (h/t ESPN), George Washington University announced Wednesday that it has decided to drop the name “Colonials” after a special committee determined that the moniker “can no longer serve its purpose. goal as a unifying name,” according to an official statement from the school. “Colonials” will continue to be used until a new name is introduced, ideally before the 2023-24 academic year.
“The board recognizes the importance of changing the university’s nickname, and we have only made this decision after a thoughtful and deliberate process that followed the name change framework and the recommendation of the special committee that took into account the diverse perspectives of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and athletic community,” Grace Speights, chair of the George Washington University Board of Trustees, said in the statement. “A nickname should unify our community, bring people together and be a source of pride. We look forward to the next steps in an inclusive process to identify a nickname that fulfills this aspiration.”
An advisory committee made up of George Washington leaders, alumni, faculty and students will make recommendations and oversee the work of a company that will partner with the university regarding the selection of a new nickname.
According to a report by the previously mentioned special committee, proponents of the name “Colonials” say it “refers to those who lived in the American colonies, especially those who fought for independence and democracy.” However, opponents see it as a term that refers to individuals “who stole land and resources from Indigenous groups, killed or exiled Indigenous peoples, and introduced slavery to colonies.”
George Washington has used the nickname “Colonials” since 1926. However, institutions across the country have adopted similar name changes for various reasons in recent years. In professional sports, the NFL’s Washington Commanders and MLB’s Cleveland Guardians changed their names to eliminate names and logos seen by many as racist and offensive.