Dear Campus Community,
For the past several months, the College has explored whether Union is best served by its current Dutchmen/Dutchwomen nicknames, or whether alternatives exist that would allow us to engage with our students and other constituents more broadly – both today and into the future.
That work has involved conversations with our students, employees, alumni and others to gauge the attachment to our current nicknames and to solicit ideas for potential new monikers.
In early February, we formally asked our community to help identify possible alternatives to Dutchmen/Dutchwomen. In true Union fashion, you responded with passion.
We received more than 2,100 submissions from more than 1,100 individuals. In all, more than 400 unique ideas were presented and a few themes emerged: ideas around our school color, garnet; the history of Schenectady; nature/animals; and versions of our current nicknames. We thank everyone for their ideas and input.
We ultimately narrowed the field to a group of approximately 20 names that were then scored by our nickname advisory group against an evaluation rubric, which we shared with our community in February. The list of options we scored included Dutchmen/Dutchwomen, but several alternatives emerged that we believe would better serve the College, now and in the future.
As a result, we will retire the use of Dutchmen and Dutchwomen as the College’s nicknames at the conclusion of this process.
One of our guiding principles in this work has been the understanding that to move away from the status quo we had to have alternatives that allowed us to embrace our tradition and history while enabling us to better engage with our current and future community. The overwhelming consensus to that challenge was to lean into our school color, garnet.
Garnet has been part of Union’s identity for approximately 150 years and already has a strong presence on campus and among our alumni community (e.g., Garnet Commons, Garnet Blades, Garnet Guard). Names including the word ‘Garnet’ were offered more than 200 times by those who responded to our call for ideas in February, and many more times during our discussions with students, alumni and employees.
In that spirit, the options currently under consideration are:
- Garnet Chargers
- Garnet Griffins
- Garnet Hawks
- Garnet Storm
Many of you suggested that Union simply adopt “Garnet” on its own as our nickname. That was an appealing option. Unfortunately, the use of “Garnet” as a standalone nickname has been trademarked by another liberal arts institution in the East, and so is not an option for us.
At the same time, we believe we have arrived at four strong options that incorporate Garnet in the title. All four also give us a single nickname (as opposed to the dual nicknames we have today). And they are all action-oriented names that offer possibilities for effective mascots to help better promote the College.
The decision to retire Dutchmen/Dutchwomen
We realize that moving away from Dutchmen/Dutchwomen will disappoint some members of our community, especially among our alumni - many of whom represented the College proudly as a member of one of our athletic teams during their time as students.
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.
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, including our Trustees, alumni ambassador groups such as President’s Council, student-athlete captains and other student leaders.
We also read and listened to every piece of feedback we received from our broader community and used that information to help inform our decision. Finally, the College has not had an active mascot to represent its nickname in nearly a decade, and the nicknames under consideration provide us with more exciting mascot options than the current names offer.
We need your help - again!
Once again, we want to hear from members of the Union community about our nickname finalists. We have created a web page that gives additional context about each of the choices, including possible mascots, and provides an opportunity to comment on each option.
We will accept feedback through May 8, and that input will be used to inform our discussions with the Board of Trustees and our final selection. It is our expectation to announce a new nickname before the start of the 2023-2024 academic year in September.
Finally, we want to again express our gratitude to everyone who submitted a suggestion. Your passion for Union is inspiring and your contributions were invaluable in helping us reach this point.
We look forward to continuing to work together to create a stronger and even more vibrant Union community.
Vice President for Communications and Marketing