Prior fact checks found that claims that the term originated in reference to “racist lynchings” are wrong. Rather, it is connected to the 300-plus-year-old French word “pique-nique,” meaning a potluck-like social gathering.
Ferris State University’s David Pilgrim, curator of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, is also quoted in College Fix as saying that “it’s possible someone used the word ‘picnic’ to refer to lynchings, but what we know for a fact is that’s not where the word ‘picnic’ came from.’”
There have been an array of such controversies over terms being dropped for what some may incorrectly assume to be their meaning or origin.
There was the decision at Harvard to drop the traditional term “House master” despite the lack of any connection to slavery. There was also the school district which dropped a cougar mascot as disrespectful to older women. There was also the move to drop the term “quantum supremacy” in physics. Many schools have moved to drop the term “alumni,” which is already gender neutral.
We have faced the same type of debate over the campaign to drop the “Colonials” mascot at The George Washington University. SA Sen. Hayley Margolis, CCAS-U, is quoted in the Hatchet as saying “When we talk about the Colonial in history, what does it mean? And is that really what we want our school identity to be?”
The Colonials is not a general reference to colonialism or a celebration of colonization. To the contrary, the Colonials (including George Washington) fought against being a colony. They fought the British Empire and its belief that you could subject a people to such foreign rule. The term “Colonials” is an obvious and direct reference to those who fought in the Revolutionary War. It is an inspiring symbol for any school.
What is clear is that higher education is no picnic for anyone who continues to cling to objective meaning in the usage of common terms.