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Beaver College May Change Name

March 10, 2000

GLENSIDE, Pa. (AP) _ Settle down, class. That will be enough giggling. Let’s all behave like mature young men and women while we discuss why Beaver College is considering changing its name.

``The word `beaver’ too often elicits ridicule in the form of derogatory remarks pertaining to the rodent, the TV show `Leave It to Beaver’ and the vulgar reference to the female anatomy,″ Beaver President Bette E. Landman wrote recently in a letter to 20,000 alumni, students, staff and benefactors.

And at a time when more and more high school students are researching colleges on the Web, some Internet filters that screen out sexually explicit material are blocking access to the Beaver College Web site. The filters have even blocked delivery of e-mail originating from the school, Landman wrote.

``It has become a very big problem,″ said Beaver spokesman Bill Avington. ``These filtering services, many of them have `beaver’ as a word that is inappropriate. Especially when you consider the age group we are targeting, it becomes tougher to get our message out. Some students use this as their sole tool to choose colleges.″

The college’s own market research shows that the school appeals to 30 percent fewer prospective students solely because of the name.

``There are alumni reports that our name presents an obstacle when seeking employment and that some have chosen not to display their diplomas to avoid unkind remarks from colleagues,″ said the president of the 2,800-student school in suburban Philadelphia.

Beaver College has appeared on David Letterman’s Top 10 list. Conan O’Brien and Howard Stern have made jokes about it. And when ``Saturday Night Live″ writers invented an annoying film critic for a recent sketch, they made him a representative of Beaver College campus radio.

``My own daughter made a crack when I told her where I was going to work,″ said Judy Wiley, a professor of psychology. ``She said, `Mom, do you know what people use that word for?‴

Heather Linsley, a senior, said: ``When we’ve gone away to different conferences, we would swap items with other students and our sweatshirts and T-shirts would be the hot item.″

``Usually it’s the guys who want them,″ she added.

Founded in 1853 in Beaver County near the Ohio line, the school moved across the state to suburban Philadelphia in 1925.

``The name comes from the original location. There’s no particular reason to keep it,″ Wiley said. ``It is a name that suffers from ridicule.″

Avington said a decision on any name change is months away.

Student Tom Bortner said he wouldn’t change a thing.

``People made jokes when I told them where I was going to school, but it’s not a big deal,″ he said. ``You get over it quickly.″

Senior Rebecca Barlow said the name doesn’t bother most students.

``I understand how our society has given `beaver’ a bad connotation, but it seems to me that the issue is external to the college,″ she said. ``It’s not a big deal to us.″

___

On the Net: Beaver College: http://www.beaver.edu

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