Valparaiso University drops Crusaders name, mascot over associations with 'hate groups'

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Valparaiso University is looking for a new identity after announcing this week that it will retire the Crusaders name, logo and mascot because of the “negative connotation and violence” associated with the imagery that it says has been adopted by “hate groups” and in “hate speech.” 

Interim President Colette Irwin-Knott made the announcement in a video statement Thursday. She said the decision came after the school formed a task force last year to evaluate the Crusaders’ imagery and associations.

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“The Crusader mascot is not only of concern to our current students but has been under scrutiny during the past few decades as it can be associated with aggressive religious oppression and violence,” Irwin-Knott said.

“Unfortunately, the Crusader and its symbols related to the Crusades have been embraced and displayed by hate groups. In fact, a newspaper of the KKK carries the name ‘The Crusader’ and this is not something we want to be connected with Valparaiso University in any way.”

The Crusades were a series of bloody religious wars starting in the 11th century between Christians and Muslims. For years, Valpo’s mascot has been a helmeted figure in faux armor.

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“The negative connotation and violence associated with the Crusader imagery are not reflective of Valpo’s mission and values, which promote a welcoming and inclusive community,” Irwin-Knott said of the private, Lutheran university located in Valparaiso, Indiana. 

“This is the decision that best reflects our values and community.”

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President-elect Jose D. Padilla, who will take over starting March 1,  will oversee a committee that will consider adopting a new team name and mascot, although the school did not offer a timeline as to when. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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