Bye Bye Bullet: Student Paper Changes Name Due to Concerns It ‘Propagated Violence’

Come fall semester, the college media universe will officially be missing a bullet. Starting next month, The Bullet, the 96-year-old student newspaper at the University of Mary Washington, will be known as The Blue & Gray Press. The web address for the paper has already been changed to reflect the name switch and all Bullet-related social media accounts have been deactivated.

So why the change? As top staff explained to readers in a news release earlier this week, “The editorial board felt that the paper’s name, which alludes to ammunition for an artillery weapon, propagated violence and did not honor our school’s history in a sensitive manner. The board intends to remain faithful to the history our university stands upon, and we continue to honor this history both in a respectful and meaningful way.”

Both the incoming and outgoing names for the paper link to the Virginia university’s more general geographical tie-in to the Civil War. For example, Blue & Gray Press, while alluding directly to UMW’s official school colors, is also of course representative of the colors of the uniforms worn by soldiers fighting way back when for the Union and Confederacy.

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According to The Free-Lance Star, the Bullet was almost dropped decades ago: “A change was considered in 1971, when opposition to the Vietnam War was at a high on campus and among the editorial staff. ‘The underlying concern was that the name conveyed an overly militaristic image, though, as the paper itself admitted, it did embody an appropriateness with Fredericksburg’s history; in addition, it was consistent in imagery with the yearbook, The Battlefield,’ said William B. Crawley’s ‘University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History.'”

Some of the comments posted beneath the Free-Lance Star piece announcing the Bullet goodbye are intriguing. On spec, the consensus seems to be two-fold: 1) There are larger reinvention issues to worry about within journalism right now than a name change. 2) This is another example of political correctness run amok. As one commenter asks while making his own name nomination, “How about The Rainbows, Puppies, Unicorns and Gluten-Free Bi-Sexual Theater-Major Whales for Coexistence Gazette?” (I admit, I laughed at that one.)

Separately, as true college media geeks know, this is at least the second student press name change this year. As I previously posted — as part of a much larger reinvention — The Daily O’Colllegian at Oklahoma State University announced last spring it was changing its name to simply O’Colly starting this semester.

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