Valparaiso University to Drop "Crusaders"

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Valparaiso University was established in 1859 and has served millions of students over its history. Since the year 1942 the school mascot has been the “Crusader” but the 79 year marriage has come to an end as the university announced plans to drop the moniker due to hate groups adopting the name. This is not the first occasion of the university changing names as they were previously known as the “Uhlan” but scrapped the name due to connection with the Nazi’s. 

With Valparaiso changing the mascot it leaves Holy Cross University as the only Division I school with the Crusader mascot. This has been a recent trend as schools and professional sports organizations with controversial names have been pressured to change names deemed to be offensive. 

Chris Lamb, a Journalism professor at IUPUI, commented saying, “It’s up to progressives to pressure high schools, colleges, and pro teams to drop offensive nicknames.”

This phenomenon has caused many sports franchises to change their mascot. Lamb also stated his belief that once one offensive name is dropped or changed, then others will follow. 

One notable example is the Washington Football Team when they dropped the “Redskin” moniker from their team name. Public outcry calling for a name change was the driving force behind the franchises decision to do so. The CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos faced the same issue and after initially deciding to keep the Eskimos as their mascot, they announced they would choose a new team name. 

Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians also decided to change their name. The team has gone by “Indians” since 1915 and recently dropped a logo that was deemed offensive, when they eliminated the Chief Wahoo logo in 2018. 

“No one wants bad publicity,” Lamb said. “A time comes when organizations decide it’s not worth pissing off people.” 

All organizations mentioned previously have been asked to change their names before, but now they have decided to make the change when previously they were reluctant to do so. 

Valparaiso voluntarily dropped the crusader's nickname. Interim President, Colette Irwin-Knox, cited new values.

“The negative connotation and violence associated with the Crusader imagery are not reflective of Valpo’s mission and value, which promote a welcoming and inclusive community,” she said. “This is the decision that best reflects our values and community.” 

Valparaiso was in a similar situation as Washington was, having a name that is perceived by people to be offensive. However, they handled the situation better and more appropriately compared to Washington. Instead of dismissing calls for change and being stubborn, the university decided to change as the name didn’t reflect their values. 

There is a difference in situations as there was more public uproar for Washington to change the name, while Valpo’s name caused a stir, but not on the stage that Washington’s did. This change is reflective of changes in society that have occurred within the last decade. With race conversations becoming more prominent and people pressuring teams to drop names that have

negative connotations show that people are going to speak out if they feel a change needs to be made. 

Valpo took matters into their own hands and made a change without being forced to like other organizations. With them making the change, could Holy Cross do the same? That is yet to be determined and this change could serve as a domino effect for other institutions to change as well.

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