The College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts is setting up a commission to consider whether to change its sports teams’ name—the Crusaders.
School president Rev. Philip Boroughs announced last week that a working group of students, faculty, staff and alumni would hold at least two campus events to hear thoughts about changing the name or the mascot, a knight with a sword and shield. The commission will present its findings in January.
“The Crusader name is an undeniable part of Holy Cross’ history,” the college said last week, adding, “At the same time, we acknowledge our responsibility to thoughtfully examine the sensitivities and implications this name may bear in light of the Crusades.”
Christian crusaders killed thousands of Jews and Muslims during battles in the Middle Ages. (Muslim fighters also killed thousands of Jews and Christians during that same period.)
Holy Cross history professor Sahar Bazzaz told the Worcester Telegram in April that Holy Cross calling its team the Crusaders is like a university in Baghdad calling itself the “Jihadis”— they are both ”someone who is fighting in the name of religion,” she said.
Many other universities with the nickname “Crusaders” changed their names in the years after the 9/11 terror attacks in light of heightened religious sensitivities.
Holy Cross’s campus newspaper, also called the Crusader, is also considering a name change. “The Crusader” is also the name of the Ku Klux Klan’s newsletter.