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EXCLUSIVE: Inside Look at the “Undemocratic” New GW Moniker Process

On the evening of Wednesday Feb. 1, the Barstool GW Instagram account posted a list showcasing the nine final options (along with a few variations) for what the new moniker for the George Washington University will be after the decision was made to no longer use “Colonials.” 

Those nine options, along with the provided variations, are: Revolution (The Revolution, Revolutionaries), Fog (The Fog, Fogriders, Foghoppers, Blue Fog), Cavalry, Ambassadors, Fireworks (Firecrackers, Fireworks), Sentinels, Monumentals, The Buzz, and Independence (Independence, Independents).

The individual who runs the account, who has chosen to remain anonymous due to fears of retribution from the GW administration, was selected to participate in one of six focus groups to help determine what the new moniker would be. The focus group that the owner of Barstool GW participated in was made up of eight undergraduate students. 

Participants in the focus group were told that what they discussed was to remain confidential. 

Audio obtained by A10Talk confirms that these were the options presented to the undergraduate student focus groups. They were determined by Sullivan & Company, the marketing firm hired to assist with identifying a new moniker, and the GW Board of Trustees, to be the finalists. 

Why was this information leaked?

“We deserve to know what is going on with the moniker process… with these terrible options we’ve been given, it is clear that the Board of Trustees does not keep us in their best interests and are completely out of touch with the school community and school spirit of GW and the future of GW as a whole,” said the focus group member who runs the Barstool GW account. “These monikers, in my opinion, would make us a laughing stock in the NCAA.” 

In the focus group, participants were instructed to rate the different potential monikers from 0-10 on how well they fit three “personality traits:” tenacity, electricity, and openness. Based on those guidelines, the anonymous source’s focus group developed a clear top two, Fog and Revolutionaries. 

“We all thought that we did not have a lot to work with,” said the focus group member who runs the Barstool GW account. “Out of the 15 possible monikers, only two would really work, and only one was open and inclusive.” 

It seems as if GW has backed themselves into a corner with these final options and the criteria they expect them to meet. Because they deemed “Colonials” unfit to remain as the moniker, any of the revolutionary war era or historical names would also fail to fit the “openness” personality trait. The focus group that the owner of the Barstool GW account participated in came to a similar consensus. 

“Our name is The George Washington University. It is problematic in and of itself,” said the focus group participant. “If we were to make the moniker ‘Revolutionaries,’ people would take that at face value and immediately incite the thinking of the Revolutionary War, and how those people owned slaves, and that just brings us back to ‘Colonials.’” 

The owner of the Barstool GW account wishes that the focus groups, and the rest of the GW community, had more of an opportunity to have a say in the finalists, instead of having to work with what was chosen for them. They went as far as to describe the process as “undemocratic.”

This leak highlights the growing frustration that the GW Community is feeling towards the process of choosing a new moniker, and lack of transparency with how the Board of Trustees and the marketing firms are operating. 

On Jan. 18, to the dismay of many, GW announced that they would not consider “Hippo” as a potential moniker. 

The hippo has been known as GW’s unofficial mascot since 1996, when former GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg presented the class of 2000 with a bronze hippo statue as a gift. Now, the statue can be found in front of Lisner Auditorium on the corner of 21st Street and H Street, where students rub the hippo’s nose for good luck. 

Right now, it looks like “Fog,” or any of its variations, will be the new GW moniker based on the information given to the students who participated in the focus groups. 

The origins of “Fog” as a potential moniker can be traced back to current GW senior Olivia Curran, who came up with the idea on parents weekend this year at a bar with her friends and their families. 

“We were talking about the new moniker, brainstorming ideas, just laughing and having fun,” said Curran. “And I was like, ‘what about the Fog?’”

Curran and her friends realized they loved that idea, and began to rally around “Fog.”

“We wanted something that was different from our colonial past,” said Curran. “Something that would not overshadow George, we have a mascot that we love, we don’t want an animal to overshadow him.”

“Fog” primarily ties into GW through Foggy Bottom, the Washington, DC neighborhood that GW is located in.

“One thing that most of my friends chose GW for is the location, it’s unmatched,” said Curran. “I think it’s something we all like about this place and should be represented in the moniker.” 

Coincidentally, there is also a historical connection between George Washington and fog. 

“We also started doing research, one of my friends is a history buff and he was talking about a battle that George Washington won because of the fog,” said Curran. 

If GW were to choose “Fog,” they would be the only school in the NCAA to have that as their nickname. Other weather based nicknames in collegiate and professional sports include “Thunder,” “Cyclones,” “Lightning,” and “Hurricanes,” among others. 

GW has yet to make any final decisions on what the new moniker will be, and is not expected to until at least the end of this academic year.