Valparaiso University was founded in 1859 and its athletics teams have been known as the Crusaders since 1942.
But that nickname will soon change. After seeking the input of stakeholders across the university and receiving unanimous recommendation from various student, alumni and faculty groups, VU interim president Colette Irwin-Knott announced the school's teams will no longer be known as the Crusaders.
"There has been growing concern on campus about how the Crusader mascot represents us as well as how it may impact prospective students' views of our university. We want to see Valpo take this important step and to retire this negative symbol and imagery from our university," student body president Kaitlyn Steinhiser said.
21st century name changes typically come from one of two buckets. Either the school is looking to distance itself from making a mascot of the historically oppressed (most commonly Native Americans) or the oppressors, typically from the Old South. In this way, Valparaiso is different, since the school gets -- or, more currently, got -- its identity from medieval Christians who waged war in an attempt to liberate the Middle East from Muslim rule, but has since become a catch-all term for any campaign of religious or moral origins. It's a nickname that has nothing to do with American history, and yet an American school is still retiring it.
This change, the school says, is a nod toward the people who imagine themselves at the point of the proverbial sword, rather than the hilt.
But it's also, like Simon Fraser's retirement of the Clan nickname, an attempt to disassociate itself from any shred of a tie to the Confederacy and the campaign to maintain white supremacy in America.
"The Crusader mascot is not only of concern to our current students but has been under significant scrutiny during the past few decades as it can be associated with aggressive religious oppression and violence," Irwin-Knott said. "Unfortunately, the Crusader and 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 at Valparaiso University in any way.
"We want to make sure our mascot is in alignment with our beliefs and speaks to the core values of the Lutheran ethos rather than being a symbol of division," Irwin-Knott said later.
Valpo, which competes in the Pioneer Football League, is not the only FCS or soon-to-be FCS school undertaking a major name change. Dixie State is in the process of changing its entire university's name in order to disassociate from the Old South.