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Coalition of Valparaiso University Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff, and Parents Calls for the Retirement of its Crusader Mascot

02-02-2021 12:49 PM CET | Science & Education

Press release from: Coalition to Retire the Crusader

/ PR Agency: Kevin York Communications
VALPARAISO, Ind. - February 1, 2021 - The Coalition to Retire the Crusader, a group composed of current Valparaiso University students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, and community members, is calling on the midwestern Lutheran University to retire its Crusader mascot immediately.

The Coalition, citing the offensive history of the symbol for its association with the Crusades and the persecution of people of both Muslim and Jewish faith, as well as fellow Christians, insists the mascot is not an accurate representation of what the University stands for.

While the University’s website contains prominent language about being ‘guided by a strong sense of ethics and informed by a broad understanding of the scientific, religious, and cultural heritage of human society,’ the Coalition points out that the Crusader is in direct contradiction to this statement.

“It’s hypocritical to have that statement on the website and marketing materials as a value of the University, then have a Crusader serve as the main visual representation of the school,” explained Kaitlyn Steinhiser, Student Body President and a Coalition leader. “The school talks a lot about being a values-based University, and in a lot of areas, it is. But the association with this imagery, which is offensive to so many people, many of whom they’re actively recruiting to attend the school, is just wrong.”

The Coalition, formed in the spring of 2020, quickly rallied more than 2,000 supporters within a week of forming a private Facebook group. Since then, the group has expanded both in size and scope, adding more advocates for change and operating initiatives via email and other social media platforms to support its movement.

As part of its work, the Coalition has circulated a formal petition that calls on the University to retire the Crusader. The petition, which now boasts an impressive list of signatures from influential people connected to the University, including many donors, continues to gain traction, with more signatures being added daily. Those who have signed the petition span a wide range of ages, from current students to alumni who graduated in the 1950s, and graduates of every decade in between.

While efforts have been made to retire the Crusader in the past, this is the most organized, coordinated, and passionate attempt yet.

“I was part of an effort to retire the Crusader while I was an undergrad in the mid 2000s, but this current movement is much broader than what we were able to do back then,” commented Valparaiso alumna Linda Funke, one of several Coalition leaders. “I know there have been several attempts to convince the University Board of Directors to retire the mascot dating back to the 1970s, but those efforts never gained as much traction as this current one. People are really inspired at this moment in time to help make the University a more inclusive institution.”

More and more people connected to the University have come to realize that the Crusader is harming the institution’s long-term health.

“Not only does the Crusader mascot not align with the University’s mission and values, but by choosing to maintain the status quo, it is essentially saying that it can afford to alienate a certain percentage of its pool of prospective students and their families,” said Mike Nevergall, Immediate Past President of the VU Alumni Association and a Coalition leader. “In the hyper-competitive world of college admissions, that seems like a bad gamble. The members of this broad Coalition love the University, we are proud to be associated with it, and want to see it thrive.”

For the good of the University, the Coalition reiterates its request that Valparaiso University retire the Crusader mascot immediately, and begin work on identifying a new, more unifying symbol to represent the school.

About the Coalition to Retire the Crusader
The Coalition to Retire the Crusader is a movement composed of thousands of students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, and community members calling on Valparaiso University to retire its Crusader mascot so that it can move toward a public symbol that better portrays the values-based, inclusive environment that Valparaiso University is building.

Follow the Coalition to Retire the Crusader on Twitter at @retirecrusader.

Coalition to Retire the Crusader

Press Contact: Kevin York, 574-361-5599, kevin@kevinyorkcomms.com

The Coalition to Retire the Crusader is a movement composed of thousands of students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents, and community members calling on Valparaiso University to retire its Crusader mascot so that it can move toward a public symbol that better portrays the values-based, inclusive environment that Valparaiso University is building.

Follow the Coalition to Retire the Crusader on Twitter at @retirecrusader.

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