The College of the Holy Cross is mulling whether to shed its century-old sports symbol the “Crusader” out of concerns the image of a Christian warrior might be offensive to Muslims.
The future of the purple mascot “Iggy the Crusader” and ” ‘Sader Nation” identity is riding on the Board of Trustees’ decision, currently slated to be announced Feb. 3 in the midst of the Worcester school’s $400 million fundraising campaign.
The Worcester college closed an eight-week comment period yesterday after receiving “hundreds” of remarks, a statement said.
Holy Cross also held two live discussions this fall about whether the image of a knight with sword and shield associated with the brutal 11th-century wars between Christians and Muslims is an appropriate symbol in 2017.
“The Crusader name is an undeniable part of the College of the Holy Cross’ history. At the same time, as an institution of higher learning, we acknowledge our responsibility to thoughtfully examine the sensitivities and implications this name may bear,” the college said in a statement to the Herald. “Our Holy Cross community is passionate about the College and our mission, values and tradition, and as we expected, the discussion of our mascot and moniker has been spirited. Our community has engaged in this conversation in a manner consistent with our approach to all discussions at Holy Cross, with deep thought and respect for different perspectives and opinions.”
Holy Cross students Donatella Guanciale and Emma Powell wrote in The Crusader newspaper, “While some have no issues with the Crusader, many feel tension or take offense with it. Why would we not consider changing something that takes away from the experience of our community, even if is just a single person who takes issue? We should want to spread the ability to love and appreciate our time at Holy Cross because of the people we are with, not because of the symbol we wear on our jerseys.”
But Class of 1956 alum Tommy Heinsohn, an NBA Hall of Famer and former Celtics coach and player, said a “significant number” of graduates are not happy.
“It’s political correctness run amok,” Heinsohn said yesterday. “There’ll be a hue and cry if they go through with this. The necessity of this thing is beyond the pale. Get a life.”
Wheaton College in Illinois dumped the Crusader name 17 years ago, replacing it with Thunder.
“It’s hard to say what risk they’re taking if they do or don’t make this decision. I suppose you could call them the Lightning or the Earthquakers, but that might offend someone, too,” said Holy Cross professor emeritus James F. Powers, who taught the history of the Crusades. He said the college must strike a balance between appeasing its current community while not alienating “a very loyal alumni. It’s put them in a difficult position psychologically and politically. I don’t think they’re to blame for this. They’ve just been given a situation that’s hard to deal with.”
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