A private Christian university in Idaho has decided to drop “Crusaders” as its nickname and mascot due to concerns about its association with “violence and destruction.”
On Monday, Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) President Joel Pearsall has announced that the school will no longer be using the nickname “Crusaders” and has adopted “Nighthawks” as its new alias.
The change came after the school’s board of trustees appointed a task force to look into the possibility of changing the nickname and mascot following concerns about its association with violence and destruction.
The Crusades were a series of wars that began in the 11th century in an effort to retake historically Christian-held territory from Muslim influence.
The task force, which was composed of NNU trustees, alumni, students, representatives of NNU athletics, and faculty members, met several times and delivered a report to the board during spring semester 2017, according to an article posted on the school’s website.
During the fall 2017 meeting, the board voted unanimously to change the university’s nickname and mascot from “Crusaders” to “Nighthawks.”
The board acknowledged that the term “crusader” could refer to someone who is committed to a worthy cause. However, the board opted to drop the term, noting that there has been a “growing diversity of opinion” regarding the mascot and nickname.
Regarding the new nickname and mascot, the board chose the nighthawk because it determined that it would be “wisest” to look to the geographical area in which the school is located and select an animal common to the area that has not already been used as a mascot and nickname by other schools.
The university explained in a Frequently Asked Questions webpage that the discussion about dropping the nickname had been taking place since 2001.
In 2006, the school decided to stop using the image of a crusader as its mascot and deemphasize the term within the athletic department and around campus, although it retained the nickname.
The school insisted that the change was not about being politically correct, but rather “an effort to assure that our nickname and mascot do not in any way impede the university’s ability to fulfill its mission and be in ministry to others in an increasingly-interconnected global community.”
However, the decision still drew criticism on social media, with some commenters lambasting the university for bowing to political correctness.
Some commenters on the university’s website lamented that the decision washes over the school’s original intent, which they say was to be a crusader for Jesus Christ. Others have expressed support for the change, saying it overcomes a potential barrier when speaking to others about religious views.
The school is now working on a new logo for the Nighthawks, but officials have noted that existing trophies and banners will still carry the Crusaders name.