What is the meaning behind QU’s colors?

By Chloe Nott

In QU’s 161 years of history the school has had three names, moved to multiple locations, and undergone massive changes. The university has stayed strong through wars, social movements, pandemics, and a constantly changing world. If two things have stayed the same it’s the core Franciscan values the college is built on, and the school colors.

Tracking down information on the how long QU’s colors have been part of the school became quite the challenge. With such a rich history, many things get left out of recorded information, especially when they may seem of little significance at the time. Thanks to the Quincy Public Library’s newspaper archives and a number of resources at QU’s Brenner Library, the hunt for the first use of QU’s brown and white started to gain traction.

Although early images of Quincy College’s athletic teams were preserved, it was impossible to determine what colors the uniforms were as the photographs were captured in black and white. This meant the only way to know what the colors were, was from written descriptions.

Today, QU’s colors are mostly seen being worn by athletes and supporters. Although the uniforms have changed over the years, the colors have stood the test of time. In 1923, the Quincy Herald Whig newspaper wrote an article on the first varsity letter athletes to receive a sweater for their efforts on the field. Even then there is mention of the school colors:

Beautiful, big brown sweaters bearing white “Q’s” were presented to thirteen members of last year’s Quincy College Football squad.

Fr. John Doctor, OFM, QU vice-president for mission and ministry, has been a friar since 1969, and Franciscan priest since 1976. If you see Fr. Doctor on campus, you’ll notice his attire is key to the origins of QU’s colors.

The brown and white are symbolic of the brown colored Franciscan habit and the white cord worn around the waist of Franciscan friars. The brown habit is worn as it not only reflects the simple, humble life led by the brothers but also denotes their vow of poverty and service to the poor. The white cord has three knots, representing the three cornerstones of the Franciscan Order; poverty, chastity, and obedience.

In 1927 The Whig refers to the basketball team as the “Quincy College Brown and White”. The first documented account of the Quincy College Hawks was in 1929 by The Whig.

1929 Quincy College Hawks basketball team. Image from The Quincy Herald Whig 2/17/1929

The Franciscans chose the hawk as Quincy College’s mascot because of its brown wings and white head which reflected the school colors. The Hawk also represents vision, strength, courage, and decisiveness.

So every time you put on a Quincy Hawks jersey or wear college pride gear, you’re representing more than a college, you’re carrying on the legacy of the Franciscan values that remain at the heart of the university.

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