GWU committees to explore Colonials nickname, Marvin Center

George Washington Colonials mascot during the second half of the Atlantic 10 Tournament second round college basketball game between the George Washington Colonials and the George Mason Patriots on March 14, 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

George Washington University is forming special committees to look at possible name changes to an on-campus building and the school moniker.

In a statement on the university’s website Monday, George Washington University President Thomas LeBlanc said one of the panels will examine the Colonials’ nickname, which critics say is antiquated and conjures up racism, violence and genocide.

George Washington University law professor and Ward 3 D.C. Council member Mary Cheh will serve as chair of that committee.

Another panel, to be chaired by George Washington University law professor Roger Fairfax Jr., will look into renaming the Marvin Center. The building is named after former school President Cloyd Heck Marvin, who was a known segregationist.

Marvin is known for stalling on the admission of Black students until most other D.C.-area schools were fully integrated.

The committee formations come almost a year after the Board of Trustees launched its Naming Task Force back in October 2019.

George Washington University is starting to accept and encourage official feedback from students, faculty and alumni on name changes.

The so-called Name Change Request Registry lists the Colonials moniker, the Marvin Center and several other buildings that are under future consideration.

The movement to change the university’s nickname began long before the current national movement to review what the U.S. chooses to memorialize as part of its racist history.

In April 2019, students approved a referendum to rid the university of the Colonials name.

“I want to emphasize that while establishing these committees is an important part of the process to consider renaming requests, it does not indicate that we are presupposing a specific outcome,” LeBlanc said in the statement.

“The framework from the Board encompasses principles, procedures and considerations to employ in reviewing all requests, and it includes an expectation that we offer many opportunities to hear university community feedback.”

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Ken Duffy

Ken Duffy is a reporter and anchor at WTOP with more than 20 years of experience. He has reported from major events like the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 2016 Election Night at Trump Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.

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