Holy Cross: Crusaders Still

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/02/03/holy-cross-crusaders-still/

The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester will keep Crusader as its mascot and nickname.

The board of trustees decided to keep it Saturday, two and a half years after a drive began to get rid of it.

Opponents of the Crusader nickname argued that it’s offensive to Muslims, who were the target of most of the wars medieval European Christian crusaders waged to try (from a Christian point of view) to free Christians under Muslim rule and liberate the Holy Land. Supporters of keeping Crusader pointed to tradition and the close ties between medieval crusaders, who put a cross on their chests before setting out for the Holy Land, and a college named after the cross Jesus of Nazareth died on.

The college posted on its web site a video showing its president and trustees chairman announcing the decision and explaining it.

“As we know, there’s a lot of passion in our Holy Cross community. So we’re excited to be able to tell you that the Crusader name will stay, and our identity as Crusaders will continue,” said John J. Mahoney Jr., trustees chairman.

But Mahoney and the Jesuit college’s president, Father Philip Boroughs, distanced the college from the medieval crusaders.

“We heard mainly that there were some people that were concerned about offending others because of the tie to the crusades themselves. Our community does not tie the Crusader name to the crusades,” Mahoney said.

Father Boroughs explained the nickname in the modern sense of someone who zealously pursues a goal.

“We’re crusaders for the importance of the intellectual life and thinking critically and analytically. We’re crusaders for social justice and care for the underserved. We’re crusaders for making a difference in our world – all of which attributes and commitments come out of the educational experience that we offer here at the College of the Holy Cross,” said Father Boroughs, a Jesuit.

He noted that Martin Luther King Jr. and Dorothy Day are sometimes called “crusaders for justice,” and it’s in that sense that the college wants to be known as Crusaders — “not as connected to the tragic wars that happened in the 11th, 12th, and 13th century.”

Father Boroughs said Holy Cross will assess how the college depicts the Crusader mascot in its literature and on campus.

Neither school official offered details about the board of trustees’ discussion, including whether the board took a vote or what the outcome was.

While the college has decided to keep crusader, the editors of the campus student newspaper went the other way. On Friday the newspaper, known since the 1955 as The Crusader, announced it will now call itself The Spire. The newspaper is editorially independent of the college.

Discussion about the term “Crusader” started in earnest in the fall of 2015, when Father Boroughs set up a committee to discuss whether buildings that were named after 19th century Jesuits connected with slavery ought to be called something else. He also asked the committee “to be aware of other issues of naming and memorialization on our campus which might need to be reviewed” — an apparent reference to Crusader.

The committee’s report in March 2016 noted that five faculty members on the committee called for getting rid of what one of them called “our much more offensive mascot.”

Ditching Crusader provoked strong reactions from Holy Cross alumni, including former Boston Celtics player and coach (and current television analyst) Tommy Heinsohn, who called it “political correctness run amok.”