‘The hippo is here to stay’: SA president says statue will remain a stop on campus tour

Officials have reinstated the hippo statue as a stop on Foggy Bottom campus tours after announcing at a tour guide meeting Wednesday that they would nix the stop moving forward.

Admissions officials informed GW STAR tour guides Thursday that they should continue to include a stop at the statue – located at the corner of 21st and H streets – according to an email obtained by The Hatchet. The reversal follows backlash from students on social media and an executive order issued by Student Association President SJ Matthews defending GW’s unofficial mascot Wednesday after administrators cut the stop.

“As we discussed last night, you should also consider ways to thoroughly showcase campus buildings you enter with your tour groups,” the email read. “As you know, we are constantly evaluating our route and we welcome your input as we try to widen the scope of the current tour.”

Officials told tour guides Wednesday that the Office of the President requested that they remove the campus tour stop at the statue, which led Matthews to issue her order.

“After numerous conversations with University administrators, I’m happy to announce this will continue to be our unofficial mascot,” Matthews said of the hippo in a video posted to the SA’s Facebook page Thursday. “It will be reinstated as a part of our on-campus tours, and I’m happy to say it will continue to live here at the corner of 21st and H and will continue to be an important and beloved part of our community.”

Matthews urged students not to lose their “momentum” and continue to hold members of the community accountable. She said that moving forward, students should work to ensure that the University ditches the Colonial nickname, which students have criticized as “offensive” and unwelcoming.

Fifty-four percent of voters in last year’s SA elections endorsed abandoning the moniker, which led Matthews to create a task force in September to address the issue.

“I thank the administration for listening to the students and for taking this quick action,” she said. “Now that the hippo is here to stay, let’s make sure the Colonial moniker goes away.”

A University spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.

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