George Washington University students voted last week to "remove and replace" its athletics nickname, the Colonials.

The student newspaper, the GW Hatchet, reports that 54 percent of students who voted in this spring’s Student Association elections supported the student referendum, which calls on the administration to remove the Colonial nickname.

An online petition, with approximately 550 signatures, calls the mascot "extremely offensive." It adds, "The historically, negatively-charged figure of Colonials has too deep a connection to colonization and glorifies the act of systemic oppression." Suggestions for the new mascot include "Hippos," "Riverhorses," or "Revolutionaries."

The petition signatures represent less than 2 percent of the GW student body.

A newly hired diversity coordinator at GW was among those pushing for the mascot change. In an article about Jordan West’s hiring, the Hatchet reports that West discussed changing the “Colonials” nickname during a fall retreat.

The GW Young Americans for Freedom group and the GW College Republicans have both released statements against the referendum.

The College Republicans chapter says the mascot “embodies the spirit of freedom and ingenuity that marked the founding of the United State of America.” The campus YAF chapter calls the Colonial a “unifying symbol of American resilience.”

"Colonials" has been the school's athletic nickname since 1926, with George the Colonial serving as mascot since 1948.

Alexander James is a contributor to Red Alert Politics and a freelance journalist.