More than 200 George Washington University students have signed a petition to eliminate the school’s mascot and nickname because they find “Colonials” extremely offensive.
Why is it offensive to them?
Students say they object to the "Colonials" connection to colonization and “systemic oppression,” according to the group’s petition. “Hippos” or “Riverhorses” would be more acceptable, the petition states.
The Colonials mascot has been in effect since 1926 as a nod to the university’s namesake, George Washington. It was intended to reference colonial America and the Continental Army, according to published reports.
But across the nation, people are taking offense to everything from school mascots to park statues, often running successful campaigns to get them removed.
The petition reads:
We, as students of the George Washington University, believe it is of great exigence that the University changes its official mascot. The use of “Colonials,” no matter how innocent the intention, is received as extremely offensive by not only students 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,” "Revolutionaries", or “Riverhorses.”
“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,” sophomore Andrew Hesbacher told the university's newspaper.
When was this started?
Sophomore Rachel Yakobashvili told the student newspaper that she and two other students launched the first petition ever on the Student Association’s advocacy website, GW Voice, last week. More than 200 students signed the petition by Wednesday. If it receives 500 signatures, the Student Association president will be prompted to respond.
“Colonialist, terrorist, murderer. In a lot of places that’s what colonials mean to people,” Hesbacher said. “Why would we continue to call ourselves that?”