Push to rename GW Colonial mascot plows ahead

A George Washington University student senator hosted a panel Wednesday to discuss school spirit and the true connotation of the school’s Colonial mascot.

Titled “Is the GW Colonial Inclusive School Spirit?”, student Sen. Hayley Margolis planned the event. Margolis told The GW Hatchet beforehand that the school’s current mascot, the “Colonial,” could interfere with inclusion at the school, claiming that it encourages oppression and hatred of different races.

GW is “a very diverse institution,” Margolis said, expanding on her remarks. “There are students that, if we were back in Colonial times, wouldn’t have been represented or treated equally. School spirit is something that should be based on equality.”

Student Association president Ashley Le noted in a January interview with The GW Hatchet that Jordan West, GW’s Inaugural Director of Diversity & Inclusion Education, is supportive of the students who are pushing to change the name of the mascot. West met with leaders of the student government in 2018 to discuss both the mascot as well as buildings named after whom they believe are objectionable historical figures.

[RELATED: Students petition to eliminate ‘offensive’ Colonial mascot]

Three students launched the original petition to change the mascot in May. At the time of publication of this article, the petition had more than 530 student signatories, which is less than two percent of the student population.

Abigail Marone, a GW senior and Campus Reform Washington, D.C. correspondent told Campus Reform that she, personally, does not find the mascot offensive.

“There is a big difference between global colonialism and American colonists,” Marone said. “George Washington, who our mascot portrays, was an American colonist who had nothing to do with global colonialism. If students are offended by this mascot, I’m surprised they aren’t offended by our school’s name.”

Marone told Campus Reform that she has personally never heard any student say that they are offended by the mascot in casual conversation at any point during her undergraduate career and called the push to change the mascot a “pet project of a few social justice warriors on campus.”

[RELATED: University apologizes for mascot that used College Republicans handouts to wipe butt]

The student-led effort to change the mascot has also received pushback from some community members, including two-time alum Michael La Place, who published an op-ed titled, “GW must stand by Colonials nickname” in The GW Hatchet last May. 

In his piece, La Place argues that “we should all value the history and traditions of an institution like GW – one that we have chosen to be a part of and that we all share. Being identified as a Colonial fills me with pride.”

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