A study from researchers at Yale University could aid some students’ push to change the Colonials moniker, which has been a hot-button issue over the past year. While students advocating for the change have an opportunity to further ground their argument, the University opened up yet another vacancy after Dean of Admission Costas Solomou announced last week that he will resign in August.
Here’s the best and the worst from this week’s headlines:
Students and faculty in favor of ditching the name often point out that it is offensive because the moniker “Colonials” carries offensive connotations of colonialism around the world. But officials who want to keep the Colonials name – or not publicly state whether they support changing the name – may fear that renaming the moniker would upset alumni who feel connected to their alma mater through the nickname. Choosing a new name could mean fewer donors from those alumni who want to support their institution.
But a study from three Yale University researchers shows that keeping offensive nicknames and mascots can decrease donations and hinder campus community. The study highlighted that offensive mascots can impact students’ sense of belonging, especially for students of color. Researchers pointed out that students may not want to take pride in a school that sells apparel decorated with a moniker they consider offensive. In the long run, students who did not feel close to their institution while on campus likely will not give back once they graduate.
The new study demonstrates that GW could move on from an offensive moniker without impacting future donations. The University should be eager to take a step forward in changing a culture that could cause students to lose their sense of belonging on campus. The research can both aid advocates of the change and inch officials toward backing the effort.
When Solomou announced that he will leave his post at the end of the summer, he joined a long list of director and dean resignations. The news should come as nothing more than a blow to the University, and they should act fast to find a permanent replacement.
Solomou had a strong run since he arrived on campus in 2016, overhauling freshman orientation to move from multiple summer sessions to one fall session, increasing the diversity of applicants and providing students from underrepresented communities with opportunities to learn about and apply to GW.
His departure comes a month after Provost Forrest Maltzman announced he will step down once a replacement is found and adds to a mix of vacant leadership positions. Turnover plagues the University’s leader, and it is worrisome that the admissions office joined a slew of vacancies. Still, there are open seats in the Colonial Health Center, and the University lacks permanent heads of several schools and departments.
Like other open seats, officials must quickly fill Solomou’s shoes. Administrators’ work in several departments could be backtracked as they pour energy into finding a replacement, and their efforts to serve students and faculty could go on pause until new officials are found. To continue moving the admissions office in the right direction, officials should prioritize their search for a replacement before the next admissions cycle rolls around.
Kiran Hoeffner-Shah, a sophomore majoring in political science and psychology, is The Hatchet’s opinions editor.