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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)


WORCESTER — A month after college leadership decided to keep the college's "Crusader" nickname, Holy Cross President Rev. Philip L. Boroughs announced in a message this week the school will drop its knight mascot.

In a letter to alumni, students, faculty and staff, the Rev. Boroughs said the Crusader knight, which adorns much of the college's paraphernalia, "inevitably ties us directly to the reality of the religious wars and the violence of the Crusades."

"This imagery stands in contrast to our stated values," he said. "Over the coming months, the college will gradually phase out the use of all knight-related imagery."

In its place, Holy Cross will adopt an interlocking HC on a purple shield as its primary logo. The

college will also retire its costumed knight mascot, according to the president.

"I understand these decisions will be a disappointment to some of you but I trust our community's support for Holy Cross and for our athletic teams will continue unwaveringly," Rev. Boroughs said.

The phase-out of the knight mascot is the latest chapter in the college's internal debate over its controversial nickname. Earlier this year, the student newspaper decided to change its name from the Crusader to the Spire; last fall, college leadership embarked on a campaign to reassess the Crusader name for the entire school as well.

In early February, however, Rev. Boroughs and the college's trustees announced they had decided to keep the name, pointing out the distinction that Holy Cross' identity as crusaders is different from the historical depiction of them as religious invaders.

In his latest message to the Holy Cross community, Rev. Boroughs said the college's current and former students have given a more positive meaning to the nickname.

"Our students spend their spring breaks working with the poor and marginalized in Haiti, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Appalachia and recent grads generously join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Teach for America and the Peace Corps," he said. "Our alumni become teachers, doctors, researchers, government officials, religious and priests, and advocates for the transformation of society through education, social service and business. These are just a few examples of what it means to be a Crusader today."

Some on campus, however, were not happy with the decision to keep the nickname, and worried that remaining Crusaders would make the college seem unwelcoming to non-Christians. Last month dozens of students and faculty members signed a letter to Rev. Boroughs criticizing the move and suggesting, among other steps, that Holy Cross drop the knight mascot.

"He is a symbol of religious intolerance directly tied to the violent medieval Crusades, not a person pursuing peace and justice," the letter said. "Far from distancing ourselves from our Catholic and Jesuit roots, changing the mascot would allow the community to more appropriately and accurately reflect the values, ideals and call of that faith tradition."

Through its public spokesman, the college on Thursday said it would not have any further comment about the decision to move on from the knight mascot.

Scott O'Connell can be reached at Scott.O' . Follow him on Twitter @ScottOConnellTG

The Crusader mascot on the field in October during a Holy Cross football game against Colgate. [T&G File Photo]

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