By HOPE RACINE AND NEPHTHALIE LAUTURE
The University of Mary Washington student newspaper, formerly known as the Bullet, changed their name to The Blue & Gray Press as part of an effort to revamp to the university’s student newspaper.
The name change, announced on Aug. 18, is the largest aspect of a full rebranding of the 92-year-old paper, which includes new logos, layouts and a larger online presence.
In a press release sent out to the UMW community, the editorial staff said, “Observing the evolving era of journalism, which has seen a complete change of numerous university, local and national newspapers, the editorial board came to the conclusion that UMW’s student newspaper is in need of a major redesign in order to accompany the constantly developing world of modern journalism. The board views a new name as an opportunity to propel the publication into the modern era.”
The name the Bullet is often viewed as a reference to the term ‘bulletin’ and the phrase “news as fast as a bullet.” However, these allusions refer to journalism only and do not hold direct ties to UMW or its students, a fact that played a large role in the renaming decision.
During the decision process, however, the board wanted to select a name that preserved the strong ties to Fredericksburg’s history that The Bullet represented.
“We specifically chose a new name that represents the spirit of the school and acknowledges the history of UMW and Fredericksburg’s region,” wrote the editorial board in an open letter to the community on Aug. 22. “The name The Blue & Gray Press, which incorporates our school colors, respectfully presents a powerful image of school spirit, with a nod toward local history.”
Blue and gray are commonly recognized as the colors of the Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War, and inspired both the UMW school colors and the name of the Blue & Gray Parkway that the school lies adjacent to.
The name change was met by mixed reactions from the UMW community, some concerned with the deviation from tradition, and some concerned with the lack of student input.
“While a name change is not entirely a bad thing, I feel that this change was not for the best [and] it was done with no input from any of the student body,” said junior David Hart. “It does not reflect the history of the university or the culture we have fostered over the years. It does not reflect all the positives the newspaper has done, [and] the name change feels like change for the sake of change.”
In addition, some alumni have expressed displeasure at the change.
“Alumni have voiced concern regarding the name change,” said Mark Thaden, executive director of alumni relations. “While I believe all of us respect the authority of the editorial board at our student-governed newspaper, most of us were caught off guard by the name change. The overwhelming sentiment I am hearing from alumni is that they preferred the time-honored name, the Bullet.”
However, some students viewed the name change as an opportunity to start a new chapter in the school’s legacy.
“It didn’t strike me negatively the way it struck a lot of people,” said senior Nate Levine. “I think it’s cool. It’s a new face, new name and a new association for our incoming class to have with our school’s paper.”
Other students indicated that the new name makes them feel more connected to the paper.
“I think it was a good idea to incorporate school colors in the name,” said sophomore English major Emily Little. “The Bullet was cool, but it didn’t have much to do with the school. Blue and gray are the school colors, and we as students identify with that a lot more.”
Despite the changes to the face of the paper, the staff said they want to encourage the community to remember that the ideals and the mission behind the paper remain the same.
“One thing has not changed: The Blue & Gray Press remains your school newspaper,” read the letter from the staff. “We hope to continue in the tradition of fair and honest journalism and constantly strive to better serve the University of Mary Washington community.”