VALAPARAISO, Ind. — Valparaiso University announced Thursday that is dropping the team name Crusaders, the school mascot and all logos associated with the term that it says has been embraced by hate groups.
The decision comes after a decades-long debate that had intensified recently because groups such as the Ku Klux Klan began using the 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. For years, Valpo’s 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.”
President-elect Jose D. Padilla will oversee a committee that will consider adopting a new team name and mascot for the 3,100-student, Lutheran school located in northwest Indiana. 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,” she said.
Irwin-Knott said Valparaiso is following the lead of other universities, which also have dropped Crusaders.
“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,” she said. “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.”