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For now at least, U of W teams still called Wesmen

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The Wesmen team name will stay for now.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

The Wesmen team name will stay for now. Photo Store

Wesmen forever?

The University of Winnipeg has quietly dropped a once-much-touted campaign to rename its Wesmen sports teams with a more gender-inclusive name by next year.

The U of W formally announced an extensive consultation campaign last September, but officials now say the idea was only "floated" and quickly fizzled out.

"That seemed to die away," said one official, adding no one has mentioned it since last year.

Jeremy Read, senior executive officer and adviser to president Lloyd Axworthy, said by email Thursday: "With construction of our new RecPlex on campus, an idea was floated to look at refreshing the name of all our sports teams. We discovered there is a deep loyalty to the Wesmen brand, which is great, and we respect that tradition. As a result, we never moved to a more formal consultation process."

Officials declined to offer more information or elaborate on the reaction from students, alumni, staff or even potential donors.

Back in September, Read had said, "We've been looking towards a more gender-inclusive term since the '90s. It is a gender-specific term. For some of our university community, this has been a long-standing issue."

He said in September the consultation coincided with construction of the $40-million United Health and RecPlex, the indoor soccer and athletic facility scheduled to open in 2014.

The U of W has had club hockey teams called the Saints and the Platinum Jets, but varsity teams have always been the Wesmen.

The name comes from the Wesleymen, a reference to the original Wesley College.

Read had speculated that students and alumni would be divided over the name change. "We want to honour our tradition" with a new name, he said at the time.

The U of W wanted to make the change as inexpensively as possible, Read said last fall. Jerseys are replaced every two or three years, but the university puts the Wesmen brand on clothing, camps, brochures and other materials.

The U of W issued a formal statement in September: "The process will include consultation with all key stakeholder groups -- including athletes, alumni, students, faculty, staff and fans -- and will thoughtfully ensure that the Wesmen tradition is appropriately honoured. Any key developments related to these activities will be formally communicated with the U of W community."

Canadian universities in recent years went to one name that isn't gender-exclusive and many dropped the "Lady" prefix for women's teams years ago.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 15, 2013 A13

History

Updated on Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 12:25 PM CDT: Added photo.

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