(RNN) - There are 76 colleges that use Eagles as a nickname across the country. There are 46 Tigers, 40 Bulldogs, 33 Panthers and 32 Knights.
But there are no Hippos.
A group of students at George Washington University is seeking to change the school’s team names from Colonials (there are three of those, by the way).
They argue that “no matter how innocent the intention” of the name, it is “received as extremely offensive by not only affiliates of the university, but the nation and world at large.”
“The historically, negatively-charged figure of Colonials has too deep a connection to colonization and glorifies the act of systemic oppression,” reads a petition posted by student Rachel Yakobashvili.
The top alternative? Hippos.
According to The Washington Post, a former president of the school bought a hippo statue at an antique store more than 20 years ago, brought it back, and turned it into a fixture on campus. Over the years it has become something of an unofficial mascot.
The Colonials nickname dates back to 1926 at GWU. Prior to that their teams were commonly referred to as the “Buff and Blue” according to the school’s website.
According to a 1926 article in the student newspaper, through the years the football team was varyingly called “Hatchetites,” “Hatchetmen,” “Hatchets,” “Axemen,” (all plays on the paper itself, The GW Hatchet), “Crummen,” (for a coach) and “Tongmen” (unexplained).
The current Colonials logo and mascot is designed to evoke George Washington. That same 1926 article endorsed the new Colonials name this way:
What name could be more fitting? This, the school named after George Washington, and having as its colors the Continental Army buff and blue, the colors of Colonial America, should be entitled to bear the name of “Colonials” if any school is so entitled.
Now, however, hundreds of students feel it is time for a change. “Revolutionaries” and “Riverhorses” have also been proposed.
Hippo would offer a certain intimidation factor, though. It is one of the the world’s deadliest mammals, killing around 500 people a year in Africa.
They wouldn’t be the first anywhere to use the animal as a mascot – that distinction belongs to at least one school already, the Hutto High School Hippos of Hutto, TX.
The official student association petition has 381 signatures so far, while a copy posted to change.org has garnered 252 signatures. The school says it has more than 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
According to The Post, a spokeswoman for the school says the issue has not been considered by administrators.
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