Valparaiso University announced Thursday that it is dropping the team name Crusaders, the school mascot and all logos associated with the term because they are embraced by hate groups.
At reported by The Associated Press, the decision comes after a decades-long debate that had intensified recently because groups such as the Ku Klux Klan began using the same symbols and words. The school’s faculty and student senates each passed resolutions calling for the change, and the university’s alumni board of directors supported reassessing the appropriateness of the team name.
The Crusades were a series of bloody religious wars starting in the 11th century between Christians and Muslims. Valparaiso is a private Lutheran university located in northwest Indiana. For years, its sports mascot has been a helmeted figure in faux armor.
“The negative connotation and violence associated with the Crusader imagery are not reflective of Valpo’s mission and values, which promote a welcoming and inclusive community,” interim president Colette Irwin-Knott said. “This is the decision that best reflects our values and community.
“Valpo is and always has been a faith-based institution, and we want to make sure our symbolism is in alignment with our beliefs and speaks to the core values of the Lutheran ethos. At Valpo, we strive to seek truth, serve generously and cultivate hope. We do not believe having the Crusader as our mascot portrays these values.”
President-elect Jose Padilla will oversee a committee that will consider adopting a new team name and mascot. Padilla is scheduled to take over as president March 1.
Student president Kaitlyn Steinhiser said the student senate believed the school mascot should represent the university’s values and help create school spirit. “The Crusader does not do that effectively,” Steinhiser said.