George Washington University Rejects “Hippos” Nickname

The moniker didn't test well as a name to replace "Colonials," the university says.

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George Washington University will not embrace the nickname “Hippos,” the GW Hatchet reported last week. The moniker, which some favored to replace the school’s now-discarded “Colonials” nickname, does not align with the “guiding principles” the university has instituted to select a new nickname. Also, the university says, the Hippos name “received negative feedback during engagement events from various members of the community.”

Hippos have been an unofficial mascot at GW for years. As the Hatchet reported in 2005:

Most people know the story of the hippo, or some version of it. University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg purchased a bronze statue of a hippo from an antique store while on a vacation in New England in 1996. As a gift to the class of 2000, the hippo statue was placed outside Lisner Auditorium. Since then, it has received an increasing amount of attention on campus and was declared GW’s unofficial mascot in 2001.

“I guess he has a penchant for hippos,” a GW archivist told the Hatchet about Trachtenberg.

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.