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Serving the GW Community since 1904

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

What students have been advocating for before you came to GW

Hatchet File Photo

GW may have missed the mark for the country’s most politically active schools for the past two years, but that doesn’t stop students from pushing for causes they are passionate about.

Over the past academic year, students have launched efforts to ditch the Colonials nickname and rename the Marvin Center, and several of those pushes are just getting started. Take a look at what students have been advocating for while you were in high school and where their efforts stand once you arrive on campus.

Scrapping the Colonials nickname

What’s happened: Some students have been pushing officials to pick a new nickname for more than a year now, arguing that the Colonials is offensive to international students whose home countries may have experienced the effects of colonialism. After students launched a petition last year calling for a name change, Student Association leaders hosted a panel discussion about changing the nickname to a less offensive moniker and placed a referendum on the ballot during SA elections asking whether students backed the name change. The referendum won the support of more than half of voting students.

Where the push stands now: Officials have not publicly stated whether they back the name change, but SA leaders said they hope to form a committee this academic year that looks into the feasibility of changing the Colonials nickname.

Cultivating community

What’s happened: During SA elections last semester, all candidates agreed that the student body lacks school spirit and social spaces. Those who ran for the SA’s top posts, including SA President SJ Matthews, called for community-building initiatives like providing students with tap access to all residence halls, offering incentives for first-year students to attend outings and creating a “living-room” style lounge for students to wind down or socialize in the Marvin Center.

Where the push stands now: While officials added more campus hubs in Kogan Plaza and outside of Gelman Library last year, both Matthews and officials have vowed to create more community spaces in Marvin and add furniture to floors in several residence halls. Officials also allowed all students to receive tap access in all residence halls beginning this fall.

Combatting food insecurity

What’s happened: Food insecurity has been a constant concern on campus since officials implemented an open dining plan in 2016. Later in the year, students opened an on-campus food pantry to help students who were running out of money before the semester ended. Student leaders most recently assembled a task force evaluating ways to curb the issue, drafting a proposal in the spring that calls for the creation of a dining hall and a biannual report on the state of dining at GW.

Where the push stands now: Officials have not yet stated whether they are in favor of creating a dining hall or implementing any of the task force’s list of demands. But the University has upped the amount of cash on students’ GWorlds every year since the switch to an open dining plan.

Change the Marvin Center name

What’s happened: A group of student leaders launched a task force in fall 2017 to examine the “problematic” pasts of several campus building names, paying close attention to the Marvin Center. The building was named after former University President Cloyd Heck Marvin, who supported GW’s segregationist policies and was known for religious intolerance in his tenure. But after an unsuccessful first run, SA leaders relaunched the group to involve students, faculty and staff.

Where the push stands now: SA leaders involved with the revived task force said they would draft recommendations for building name changes, but the group has not produced a report since it formed last fall.

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