After a multi-year process, George Washington University will no longer be nicknamed the “Colonials” starting in the 2023-2024 school year.
Since 1926, the Colonials nickname has been used to describe George Washington’s sports teams, but the “Special Committee on the Colonials Moniker” was created in July 2020 to determine the future of the nickname after the name was “identified as a matter of concern.”
The decision to change the moniker was announced on Wednesday on the school’s official online news source, GW Today.
“The board recognizes the significance of changing the university’s moniker, and we made this decision only after a thoughtful and deliberate process that followed the renaming framework and special committee recommendation that considered the varying perspectives of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and athletics community,” said Board Chair Grace Speights. “A moniker must unify our community, draw people together and serve as a source of pride. We look forward to the next steps in an inclusive process to identify a moniker that fulfills this aspiration.”
The Colonials nickname will continue to be used until a new name is selected.
According to GW Today, the decision to change the name was done in order to “unite” the community, and the Colonials’ nickname came about “casually and haphazardly.”
The Special Committee recognized that there will be those who support the decision as well as those who will be against the committee’s decision to change the nickname.
“For supporters, the term refers to those who lived in the American colonies, especially those who fought for independence and democracy,” the special committee found. “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. Use and popularity of the moniker also has declined in recent years.”
The search for a new nickname will include partnering with a firm and establishing a special advisory committee.
“The moniker is one way in which our student-athletes, athletic staff and fans build community,” Director of Athletics Tanya Vogel said. “I know some people will be disappointed today, but we see this as a tremendous opportunity to come together, share our experiences and consider what is important to our GW community as we launch the new moniker development process.”