A private, liberal arts women’s college in Georgia has changed its long-standing tradition of naming graduate classes because of tradition’s tie “to the South’s racist past.”
Wesleyan College will no longer name its graduating classes because of the college’s historical connection to the KKK. Students can choose from 4 rotating class names — three of which are the Green Knights, Purple Knights and Golden Hearts
Three Wesleyan classes from 1909, 1913 and 1917 chose the Ku Klux Klan to represent their class names, according to Insiderhighered.com.
America’s oldest women-chartered college announced a change to this practice on July 24.
“The class names themselves have been embroiled in historical controversy. One name had clear connections to the South’s racist past, but the connection is less clear for the others,” the statement read in part. “Nevertheless, activities related to class names and traditions have fostered some of the campus’s racial tension in recent years. While the class structure served as a bonding tradition for many years, the same is not as true today.”
Wesleyan demographics have changed since its 1836 school opening. The graduating classes from 2016–2020 are 30 percent are women of color, according to the school’s website.
“Wesleyan College has a history that spans more than 180 years. In that time many things have changed: people, buildings, curriculum, and traditions. What has not changed is the College’s commitment to its primary mission: to be an exceptional, residential, liberal arts college for women.”
In 2017, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a story about the school’s ties to the KKK. Previously, the school used the nicknames the Tri-Ks and Tri-K Pirates. Currently, the nickname of the school is the wolves.
As of 2006, a student group put on purple hooded robes for a new student initiation event. The group continued to wear robes until 2010 or 2011, according to Insidehigered.com.
“For Wesleyan to grow, we must embrace change. This is critical to Wesleyan’s future, and we are grateful for support from current and former students, faculty and staff, trustees, and other friends of the College for developing an exciting, ambitious new mission statement and strategic plan that will strengthen the College’s future.”