Valparaiso University, a small Christian college in northwest Indiana, will shed itself of its Crusader mascot and logo, citing concerns about negative associations with religious oppression, violence, and hate groups.
The decision comes from a school task force established last fall after years of debate, which intensified last summer, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported.
“The task force determined the Crusader is not reflective of Valpo’s mission to promote a welcoming and inclusive community,” University Interim President Colette Irwin-Knott said.
School President-Elect Jose Padilla will oversee a committee that would “engage the campus community in considering and adopting a new mascot.”
Crusaders were Christian warriors that fought a series of wars against Muslim armies in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries over the Holy Land in and around modern-day Israel and the eastern Mediterranean.
The school’s mascot is a brown and gold faux armored soldier with a helmet, mask, and plume.
Valparaiso was founded 1859 as Valparaiso Male and Female College by Methodists, but was purchased by the Lutheran University Association in 1925. It adopted the Crusader nickname in 1942. The school has an enrollment of about 4,500.
“This conversation has been going on for a long time,” former Valparaiso basketball player Erik Buggs told the Times. “I heard that people wanted to change the nickname all through my time there. While it’s not a new thing, it was surprising to hear it happened today.”
The school is the latest organization to abandon traditional nicknames and mascots following racial protests this past summer, most notably the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. The club played as the “Washington Football Team” this past season.
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