Crusading for a Change of Our Newspaper’s Name and Our Mascot: What Would Jesus Do?

by Olivia Pan, Opinions Editor

There have been a number of exchanges in news articles, a fishbowl discussion, and comments about our newspaper’s name and our school’s mascot. Evolving the brand of the college (and it is a brand, our brand) is long overdue. All institutions of higher learning, Jesuit or not, create a brand that says something else about who they are and where they came from.

I cannot speak to others’ motivations or concerns about rebranding the school’s newspaper or mascot, only my own. My crusade to rebrand the college is not about being politically correct, or about the KKK having the same name as our paper, or about our mascot resembling a soldier in a bloody, horrific holy war, although that is not very palatable. Symbols mean something. If they didn’t, we would not rely so heavily on them to identify schools, products, companies, charities, or any other entity. They evoke emotion and a belief in something, and that “something” can sometimes be a hit or a miss, or become outdated. It seems to me that our symbol is associated with something that we should not want to promote, but rather condemn. At the very least, we should certainly revise these terms and symbols.

For those clinging to the argument that we’ve been the Crusaders for years now, and that we need to continue this important “tradition,” let me remind everyone that not all traditions are necessarily positive or morally justifiable. Just because something’s been kicking around for several decades does not mean we should keep it. If I recall, we used to have many “traditions” in this country that eventually came to pass as we evolved.  

I’ve also heard talk that if we do decide to stop being the Crusaders, it may tick off alumni, who may in turn stop donating to our school. How can a Christian believe it’s more important to keep our mascot the same than to allow an under-privileged kid to attend college here through need-blind funds? If alumni feel more strongly about their school’s identity or brand as “Crusaders” than about the actual students who might get the chance to attend Holy Cross and change the trajectory of their lives by doing so, then possibly their priorities are a bit mixed up. Possibly, they should ask themselves, what would Jesus do? From what I know historically of this man, it does not seem that he would choose a symbol over changing someone’s life for the better.

In full disclosure, I was raised by a “lapsed Catholic,” who attended a very strict Christian school during her formative years. My mother insists that she is not a lapsed Catholic but intentionally dropped out of organized religion at the age of seven. It seems that a certain hard-core nun informed her and her second grade class that if a baby was not baptized and died before being baptized, they went to a place called “limbo.” This seemed outrageously unfair in my mother’s seven-year old mind that any just God would send an innocent to limbo, wherever that was.  

She has told me over the years that if Jesus had a good lawyer he would most likely sue everyone for libel, especially those who speak on his behalf. She has also taught me that Jesus was an extremely cool, peace-loving person, and much of what others attribute to him saying about various things is simply not historically accurate. He would also, according to some theologians, have been considered a political terrorist in his day, threatening the governing powers that existed. So I may not be part of an organized religion, but I have been given some background regarding Christianity: the good, the bad, and the ugly. One of those ugly periods of Christianity was, of course, the religious holocaust carried out against Muslims, Jews, and Eastern Orthodox Catholics, known as the Crusades.

I am not saying that the link between our college’s symbols and this time in history had any real ill-intent at the time they were instituted. However, given that we want to be an inclusive community, and we should want to be sophisticated in how we do that, let’s examine our mascot and the newspaper’s name as well. I mean c’mon, our mascot is a costumed soldier representing a knight in the bloodiest religious war known to humankind. Worse, it was not a war, but a slaughter of innocent people of other religious persuasions.

We’re all smart people here. Well, I have my doubts about that one kid in my class. Can’t we come up with something else that embodies the spirit of strength on the playing field that speaks to everyone? My feeling is that if one goes, both should go: the newspaper’s name and the mascot. A new rebranding of this school would truly speak to its core values and truly illustrate Jesuit values. How about the Purple Pandas? No, I know that’s not scary enough. I’m working on it.

Photo Credit: Google Images

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