In a time of nationwide upheaval surrounding systemic racism, we are still fighting a pandemic that is stumping universities’ fall plans.
Officials announced the University is forming committees to evaluate renaming the Colonials moniker and the Marvin Center after years of student activism. The news demonstrates that GW is listening to student activism, but there’s another pressing concern on students’ minds – how they are going to learn this fall.
The University’s return plan has not publicly been approved by the D.C. government, and given that our city peers aren’t bringing all students back to campus, students are left wondering whether they can even safely come back.
Here’s the best and worst of this week’s headlines:
Many students on campus, including The Hatchet’s Editorial Board, support renaming the Colonials moniker and the Marvin Center. While some students and alumni are torn about the pushes to rename University related items that are named after problematic or racist figures, University President Thomas LeBlanc’s choice to establish committees to reevaluate these renaming requests says a lot about the power of student voices.
The Marvin Center was named after former University President Cloyd Heck Marvin, who oversaw GW’s expansion but also spearheaded racially discriminatory policies. While it is important to remember Marvin and the growth he brought the University, his name should not be memorialized in the way that it has. GW has chosen to name our campus’ student hub after a racist who did not want GW to be a place where everyone could have access to education and opportunity. Students have been calling for the center to be renamed since the building was dedicated, and the new committee shows immense progress and understanding as a GW community.
The movement to rename the Colonials nickname has also been top campus issue in recent years. After petitions, referendums, an SA task force and countless student discussions about renaming the Colonials, it seems the University is finally taking student thought seriously. Rebranding the University’s moniker is much more serious and complex than renaming a building – students should understand that the easiest thing for officials to do is nothing.
GW has been consistently releasing bits of information about what the fall semester might look like, and it’s not particularly helpful when we don’t even know if the return plan has been approved.
While students, families, faculty and staff deserve to hear all possibilities of what the University is considering, we are rapidly approaching the fall semester with very little information about how we will operate. We don’t know exactly how GW plans to test its students or what additional changes need to be made to the Back To Campus plan. The University has roughly three weeks until the first round of students are able to move back into residence halls – students deserve to know the logistics about how that can be done safely as soon as possible.
No matter what potential changes the University makes to its plan, the truth is that we are still in the middle of a pandemic. The only things that will help students, their families, faculty and staff are concrete action plans and decisions. The University is running out of time before students start arriving back to campus – they must take concrete action soon.
Hannah Thacker, a rising junior majoring in political communication, is the opinions editor.
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