On Wednesday, Valparaiso University in Indiana announced its new nickname, the “Beacons,” after having jettisoned its long-time moniker “Crusaders” last February. The university wrote, “We. Are. BEACONS. Valparaiso University’s new nickname directly connects to our motto, “In Thy Light We See Light,” and represents the entire Valpo family. We are beacons of hope, change, knowledge, and, above all, God’s light.”
José D. Padilla, J.D., University president stated in a news release: “Our new nickname directly connects to the University’s motto, ‘In Thy Light We See Light,’ and represents the Valparaiso University community in many ways. We are beacons of light and hope in our communities. We are beacons of change on campus, in our region and in our country. We are beacons of knowledge for our students’ academic, social and spiritual growth. Above all, we are beacons of God’s light around the world. We light the way for our students, so that once they graduate, they shine their light for others. We are all Beacons at Valparaiso University.”
The university adopted the “Crusader” as its mascot in 1942.
We. Are. BEACONS. Valparaiso University's new nickname directly connects to our motto, "In Thy Light We See Light," and represents the entire Valpo family. We are beacons of hope, change, knowledge, and, above all, God's light. At Valpo, #WeAreBeacons. #ValpoBeacons pic.twitter.com/30k0pMdvT4
— Valparaiso University (@ValpoU) August 10, 2021
In February, the university’s interim president, Colette Irwin-Knott, said in a video, “Unfortunately, the Crusader and its symbols related to the Crusades have been embraced and displayed by hate groups,” reports The New York Times. “In fact, a newspaper of the K.K.K. carries the name The Crusader, and this is not something we want to be connected with Valparaiso University in any way.”
In the video the university released in February, Irwin-Knott also stated:
Last September I convened a task force to study the continued use of the “Crusader.” The task force was chaired by a member of the board and include student, faculty, staff, athletic and alumni representatives. Approximately 7700 of you took the opportunity to respond to a survey the task force compiled and sent and I’m thankful for your feed back.
The task force ultimately recommended that we proceed with retiring the Crusader mascot. Additionally, in the past year, the alumni association board of directors passed a resolution seeking a review of the use of the Crusader mascot, its appropriateness, and whether it aligns with the university’s values. Here on campus, the faculty senate and the student senate both passed resolutions calling on the university to retire the mascot.
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. 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.
Kaitlyn Steinhiser, the student body president, said in the video, “Mascots are intended to help us show our school spirit and represent Valpo values, rather than be divisive and symbolize negativity. There has been a growing concern from students on campus about how the current Crusader mascot represents us, as well as how it may impact prospective students’ views of our university.”
This article has been revised for clarity.