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Once a Crusader, Always a Crusader - November 2017

posted Nov 25, 2017, 9:03 AM by RSO The Fenwick Review
By Bill Christ '18

In an email sent to the student body days before Homecoming weekend, Fr. Boroughs wrote that he has created a committee to discuss the College’s relationship with the Crusader mascot. For the second time in two years, Fr. Boroughs has created a committee to consider changing an aspect of campus life. In the fall of 2016, a committee was established to investigate the circumstances surrounding Fr. Mulledy’s, and the Jesuits of the Maryland Province, transactions of slaves. In that decision, the committee decided to renamed Mulledy Hall and call it BrooksMulledy while ending their final document with two sentences suggesting that the term “crusader” needed to be objectively examined as well.

For many cheering the announcement of the committee to discuss the appropriateness of the Crusader moniker, the term conjures up the historical atrocities that need to condemned nearly a millennium after they occurred. In my opinion, the only people on campus calling for a change of the mascot’s name are a majority of administrators and staff who are supported by a small percentage of students. The arguments made against the mascot by this group include the invocation of the historical Crusades that committed very real atrocities against Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land centuries ago. However, the same group would do well to remember that wars have been fought by every major religion throughout history until the present day, with Islamic terrorists committing atrocities against followers of every major religion, including Islam. Another complaint about the mascot is that the term runs in direct opposition to the College’s emphasis and dedication to diversity. While diversity of persons, experiences, and thought is extremely important, so is the concept of tradition. The College adopted the “Crusader” as its mascot in the 1920s, at the time of the construction of Dinand Library, St. Joseph’s Memorial Chapel, and Kimball Hall. For many alumni and current students who competed and studied on Mount St. James, Holy Cross’s association with the term “crusader” means more to them than Dinand and Kimball. Take away the Crusader, and Holy Cross will be simply be a 174 acre hill with buildings on its campus. For most of the people who have spent time on the Hill, the term “crusader” is a fitting expression of what Holy Cross strives to instill into its students in four short years. Since a crusader is someone who campaigns energetically for their religious, political, or moral viewpoint, the College should keep it or abandon its dedication to proper education. Students who are encouraged by their professors to defend their opinions and points of view every day in class should be proud to crusade for what they believe in. Additionally, the concept of debating, holding true to one’s convictions, and campaigning for them is exactly what Fr. Boroughs wants to occur with the committee discussing, from every possible angle, the appropriateness of the moniker. The committee needs crusaders in order to fulfill its duty to conducting informed and passionate discussions about the mascot. In this respect, everyone involved, whether they want to be or not, is a crusader since they are campaigning for something they believe.

In addition to the attachment current and former students of Holy Cross feel towards their mascot, the ramifications of changing it could be dire. It could affect the donations which the school needs for its survival, since many alumni are unhappy that the school is even considering changing the name. During the tailgate before the Holy Cross v. Lafayette football game on Homecoming Saturday, several recent alumni hoisted a large sign declaring “Keep the Crusader” on top of their car. Throughout the day, I had discussions with other recent alumni who expressed similar sentiments and proclaimed that if the mascot were changed, they would no longer donate to the school. I am sure this sentiment is not exclusive to recent alumni. The question of changes to mascots is not isolated to Holy Cross, or Colleges in general, as my high school considered changing it mascot. Canisius High School, also has a Crusader for its mascot and ended its consideration for a name change once they heard the Canisius alumni’s vehement opposition to the idea. Like the alumni of Holy Cross, Canisius alumni stated that they would no longer donate if the school changed the mascot.

As the committee investigates the appropriateness of the Crusader, the campus still has time to speak. For the supporters of the Crusader, voice your opinion and make sure the committee hears you. Inform the members of the committee that the voices pushing for this change come from a small minority of the student body. Continue the spirit that has crusaded over several generations at Holy Cross and declare that the College’s mascot is the most accurate and most vivid representation of our school’s mission, values, and identity.