The two editorials below appeared in this week’s issue of the Crusader to explain why we are changing our name. James Gallagher wrote the “Last of the Crusader” part, and Jack Godar wrote “Up Next: The Spire”
The Last of The Crusader
On January 7, 1955, our predecessors at The Tomahawk had the following to say: “The Tomahawk has become an accepted tradition at Holy Cross and should not be seriously changed, of course, without good reason. There are good reasons.” Today, we announce a similar decision. This will be the final issue of The Crusader.
The decision of The Tomahawk’s editors was quite simple and uncontroversial. By the 1950’s, Holy Cross had moved beyond the Native American imagery that dominated its early years. The Tomahawk was a vestige of a bygone era; keeping the name would have been an exercise in blind traditionalism. Today’s decision is, admittedly, a far more difficult one. Holy Cross’ crusader, as a motif and concept, has been synonymous with the school since 1925, when it was adopted as its official symbol. Men and women have been proud to call themselves Holy Cross Crusaders for nearly a century. The decision to break with that tradition, then, was not taken lightly or hastily.
The editorial board’s examination of the newspaper’s name was prompted by a letter, signed by nearly fifty faculty members, which was submitted to the managing editors of The Crusader one year ago. It argued that, given the rising tide of xenophobia in the American political sphere and the fact that The Crusader shared a name with a KKK-sponsored newspaper, perhaps a name change should be considered. The letter was critically examined by last year’s editorial board, headed by Megan Izzo ‘17 and Jonathan Thompson ‘17, who published it and duly initiated a process to evaluate the name of our campus’ newspaper. That process included a public discussion in Rehm Library and the paper’s affiliation with the college’s lecture series on the Crusades and the crusader image. Under the current editorial leadership, The Crusader has published opinions from all sides and received and considered plenty of private correspondence on the matter. Ultimately, several lengthy board meetings bequeathed this result: a name change.
As the editors of The Tomahawk understood, a fundamental break with tradition requires an exceptionally strong rationale, and we believe that such cause exists. Prompted by the faculty letter, the editorial board studied the history of the Crusades and the use of the term ‘crusader’ on the Holy Cross campus. Ultimately, the nominal association with a poorly-circulated KKK newspaper (which took its name far later than this paper) did not figure at all in the final decision. What did matter to us was the ultimate legacy of the crusaders themselves. No matter how long ago the Crusades took place, this paper does not wish to be associated with the massacres (i.e. burning synagogues with innocent men, women, and children inside) and conquest that took place therein. Surely, the word ‘crusade’ has come to mean ‘an energetic campaign’ in common parlance, but can a school whose mascot wields a sword and shield really lay claim to this interpretation? An editorial in this very paper in October of 1925 explained the Holy Cross Crusader mascot as one associated with “the zeal and ardor of knightly valor, imbuing her sons with the fervor of legendary memoirs.” Those ‘legendary memoirs’ cut to the very heart of the types of religious violence that this paper sees no need to associate itself with.
That being said, the history of The Crusader is that of sixty-three years of vibrant student voices; it has covered everything from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the beginning of coeducation at HC. It leaves behind a legacy that all should be proud of. We certainly are.
The name change is most certainly not about appeasing faculty or creating ‘safe spaces,’ but rather it ensures that our extraordinary newspaper can continue to provide a platform for all students at the College of the Holy Cross. The editorial board’s decision was made independent of the administration, and we offer no advice or hopes for the Board of Trustees’ decision on the mascot tomorrow. What we can promise is that we will report on it fairly, as we have on all things Holy Cross since 1925. This newspaper, whether called The Tomahawk, The Crusader, The Spire or The Purple People Eater, will continue to deliver journalism and opinion with integrity.
We hope you’ll support us.
Up Next: The Spire
Over the course of discussing whether or not to change the name of The Crusader, one thing was always clear: if we were going to change the name of the paper, the new name must be representative of Holy Cross’ proud tradition and students’ connection with the school. Ideally, it would convey some sort of experience universal to all those who have attended this fine institution throughout its long and storied history. With that in mind, the new name of the official campus newspaper of Holy Cross, effective next week, is
This new name is a reference to the twin spires that dot the top of Fenwick Hall, a building that has served as the heart of this campus for almost the entirety of Holy Cross’ history. Every student at Holy Cross has stepped into Fenwick at one point or another, and the spires of Fenwick stand tall and proud on Mount St. James for all to see. They are an iconic feature of Holy Cross and are an architectural hallmark of the campus. Thus, The Spire is an incredibly appropriate name for our newspaper.
The editorial board is aware that some members of the Holy Cross community feel that changing the name of the newspaper to something other than The Crusader is disrespectful to the Holy Cross tradition. With that in mind, and acknowledging that the crusader mascot is an extremely important part of Holy Cross’ history, it was imperative to us that the new name hold similar weight. It is indisputable that the spires of Fenwick Hall are just as much a part of that tradition as the crusader —indeed, one of the earliest books about Holy Cross’ history is titled The Spires of Fenwick.
In 1843, Bishop Fenwick of Boston founded the College of the Holy Cross. That same year, the cornerstone for Fenwick Hall was laid. The original Fenwick Hall was a Greek Revival building much like the current one, but with only one spire. In 1852, a fire burnt Fenwick Hall to the ground, leaving the future of Holy Cross in doubt. However, through persistence and resilience, Fenwick was rebuilt and Holy Cross developed into the treasured institution that it is today, the spires of Fenwick Hall standing tall all the while.
In 1842, Bishop Fenwick wrote a letter discussing his plans for this new college. In it he wrote, “Next May I shall lay the foundation of a splendid College in Worcester…It is calculated to contain 100 boys and I shall take them for $125 per an. & supply them with everything but clothes. Will not this be a bold undertaking? Nevertheless I will try it. It will stand on a beautiful eminence & will command the view of the whole town of Worcester…”
Holy Cross is a little bit bigger than 100 students now, not all the students are boys, and tuition is no longer $125 a year(sadly), but Fenwick Hall still stands on a beautiful eminence, a beacon for the whole city of Worcester. It is safe to say to say that Fenwick’s bold undertaking paid off.
The Spire, thus, is not just a homage to the bricks and mortar that make up the physical spires, but rather to the resilience, faith, and courage of those who made Holy Cross into what it is, as well as those on campus now and in the future who will shape what Holy Cross will become. While no one knows what the future holds, two things are certain: the spires of Fenwick Hall will stand tall on Mount St. James, and this student newspaper will be around to document the extraordinary accomplishments of the Holy Cross community. With this in mind, we ask for your help in sustaining Holy Cross’ only official student newspaper, The Spire.
Will this not be a bold undertaking?