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New name for UMW newspaper

The University of Mary Washington’s student newspaper, the record of campus events since 1922, is changing its name from The Bullet to The Blue & Gray Press.

The first edition of the weekly paper under the new name will come out Sept. 4.

The paper’s editor-in-chief, Alison Thoet, said the staff wanted to change the name to reflect the changing nature of the field of journalism and “really be reflective of the student body.”

The newspaper announced the change in a release to the UMW community Monday.

“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 release said. “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.”

The release went on to say that the name change to The Blue & Gray Press more closely reflects UMW in the 21st century.

“The new name is simple but calls forth UMW’s colors, giving a direct reference back to the school and students the university paper should represent,” it said.

The name-change discussion isn’t new.

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.”

Though The Bullet first functioned as a bulletin for campus events, it shifted over time into a serious platform for student journalism. It has won multiple awards from the Virginia Press Association and Society of Professional Journalism.

According to Megan Petter in the Student Activities and Engagement Office, the name change is still in the process of becoming official. The paper’s internal student board has already voted, and the changes to its constitution need to be accepted by her office.

Since the paper is primarily funded by UMW, the department must give final approval.

Thoet said that physical changes will accompany the paper along with the name change. While it will remain 10 pages, the paper will be smaller.

She said she also hopes to focus on investigative journalism and the stories of everyday students in upcoming issues.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976