By Emily Kulp, Opinions Editor
On April 11, a group of faculty members representing different disciplines participated in a panel entitled, “Calling Ourselves Crusaders: What’s in a Name?,” as part of the ongoing conversation over whether Holy Cross should consider changing its mascot. Several of the panelists mentioned the potential name change of the newspaper, showing the strong connection between our mascot and our student newspaper. The panelists emphasized that the event was not a debate, but a conversation among professors from different perspectives.
Kendy Hess, Professor of Philosophy, began the conversation by expressing the importance of “taking on” different values to understand someone else’s point of view. I agree that throughout our considerations of whether to change our college’s mascot and our newspaper’s name, it is integral we recognize the viewpoints of others and attempt to see beyond the limits of our own sight. If we become entirely absorbed by our own perspective, we lose the ability to have an important conversation about difficult questions.
Mathew Schmalz, Professor of Religious Studies, questioned whether we can differentiate between the symbol of The Crusader and the affect it has on our campus community. Whether we choose to think about it or not, The Crusades were an incredibly violent portion of history. I believe we cannot afford to pretend we can hear the name “The Crusader” without thinking about its violent history or deeper meaning. Even if our mascot or newspaper name used to be only a word or symbol to us, the fact that it has been brought forth as a subject of discussion means it affects some members of our campus community and we should feel obligated to engage in a meaningful discussion about it.
Reverend John F. Baldovin, S.J., ’69, Professor of Historical and Liturgical Theology at Boston College, called into question the meaning and importance of The Crusader’s sword. This led me to wonder what difference stands between the word and image of our mascot. For instance, the name of our newspaper, “The Crusader,” does not contain a direct image of violence, but our mascot carries a sword. I believe we must question whether the name of our newspaper can stand on its own, or whether it will always call to mind the image of our mascot carrying a sword, and thus the violent crusades it is truly named after.
Near the end of the panel’s discussion, Professor Hess spoke about how the potential to change our mascot should be viewed as an opportunity for Holy Cross, rather than a problem. She emphasized our ability to define what our college community means to us and what its values are by considering this change. If we see every opportunity to create change as a punishment, no differences will ever be made. As Professor Hess pointed out, even if we do not see the meaning behind questioning our college’s mascot or newspaper name, we must try and understand why it might matter to others. It is time to ask ourselves if it is right for us to have a mascot or a newspaper name that many members of our campus community do not believe represents our values or if we can redefine who we are as a college by making a change.
Photo courtesy of goholycross.com