• Why is Union doing this now?

    At their best, nicknames – and the accompanying mascots – are pride points for a college community, connecting alumni across generations with current and future students. The College is currently conducting a comprehensive branding update designed to strengthen how we communicate Union’s distinctiveness and the power of a Union education to prospective and current students, faculty, staff, alumni and the general public.

    Examining whether Union’s current Dutchmen/Dutchwomen nickname best portrays the image Union wants to project to the world is a natural outgrowth of that work. Our current and prospective students show little affinity for our nickname, so we felt the time was right to explore other options.

  • What’s wrong with Dutchmen and Dutchwomen? Isn’t it a tribute to the founding of the region and College?

    It’s true that this part of New York is associated with Dutch heritage, but by no means is the region monolithic in regard to those who have settled here. In fact, the region also is the ancestral homeland of the Iroquois Confederacy, which is thought to date back to the 15th century, well before the first Dutch explorers arrived.

    Additionally, there is no direct tie between Union College and the genesis of its current nickname. The College was formed in 1795 as the “Union” of a number of religious orders specifically to be a non-sectarian institution.

    The use of Dutchmen began in the first half of the 20th century when local sports writers adopted the term as a colorful way to refer to the College’s athletics teams. After women were admitted to Union in the early 1970s, use of the term Dutchwomen began. By contrast, “Garnet” - which is part of each of our proposed finalists for a new nickname - has been the school color for more than 150 years.

  • Was there support for keeping the current names? If so, why make a change?

    There was considerable support for retaining the Dutchmen/Dutchwomen names, notably among our alumni community – including many who represented the College proudly as a member of one of our athletic teams during their time as students.

    We didn’t make this decision lightly. Rather it came after careful consideration of all our options, and much interaction with members of our community. We realize the decision to move away from Dutchmen/Dutchwomen will disappoint some members of our community, especially among our alumni. We deeply respect those views and know they come from a place of love for the College. To those individuals, we offer our thanks for your input and would only ask that you keep an open mind as we move forward.

  • At what point did Dutchmen/Dutchwomen fall out of consideration? Did you even consider keeping the names?

    The current names were included in the list of approximately 20 monikers scored against the evaluation criteria. After that process was completed, we felt we had several options that would serve the College better than Dutchmen/Dutchwomen. Because of that, we made the decision to retire the current names so we can turn our full attention to moving ahead with a new name. We will continue to use the current names until we unveil the new one.

  • What does this decision mean for other Dutch-related references on campus?

    Nothing. This work was designed solely to determine whether Dutchmen/women continues to be the best choice as a nickname for the College.

    We have no plans to discontinue traditions such as the firing of the cannon, playing in the annual “Dutchman Shoes” rivalry football game with RPI or removing Dutch references on our campus, such as the Dutch Hollow dining venue.

  • How did you arrive at the list of finalists?

    The College has spent months seeking input from students, alumni and employees in multiple ways, including individual and small group discussions, student-facing events, social media and online survey. In all, more than 1,100 individuals offered approximately 2,200 ideas for names – including more than 400 unique ideas.

    From there, the team tasked with leading this work narrowed the list to approximately 60 names, from which our nickname advisory committee – comprising student, alumni, staff and faculty – helped us narrow the field to about 20 options. Those options were then scored against a set of evaluation criteria, which formed the foundation for our election of finalists.

    In offering these names, we have made a conscious decision to lean into our school color, garnet, which has been associated with Union for more than 150 years. By doing so, we are confident we have provided options that both honor the tradition and history of the College and that will resonate with our community well into the future.

  • Since all the final options contain the word “Garnet” why not just change our nickname to the Union Garnet?

    Garnet was a popular suggestion. In fact, the word was suggested as our nickname – either by itself or in combination with other words as we have offered – more than 250 times by members of our community. Unfortunately, another liberal arts college in the East has trademarked the use of the word “Garnet” by itself as its nickname. As such, we have decided to not use it in that fashion.

  • What happens next? Will there be a vote on the finalists?

    While we are not asking members of our community to vote on the final options, we do want feedback. We encourage all members of our community to share their views on the finalists using the rating form on our web site through May 8. This feedback will help to inform a project team led by the Vice President for Communications and Marketing and the Director of Athletics.

    The final decision on a new nickname will be made by the College’s President, in close consultation with the Board of Trustees, based on the recommendation from the project team.

  • When will the final selection be announced?

    We plan to announce the new nickname this August or September.