This past Thursday, President Philip Boroughs, SJ, sent out a letter to the Holy Cross community announcing the formation of a working group tasked with gathering responses regarding the Crusader mascot and moniker.
“The Crusader name is an undeniable part of Holy Cross’ history,” said Fr. Boroughs in a statement. “At the same time, we acknowledge our responsibility to thoughtfully examine the sensitivities and implications this name may bear. We look forward to conducting a thorough, inclusive dialogue that invites participation by all members of our community.”
Boroughs has charged the group, which consists of students, alumni, faculty and staff, with creating opportunities for Holy Cross stakeholders—students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents—to engage in dialogue and give feedback on the following question: In what ways do you think the Crusader moniker and mascot are appropriate, or inappropriate, representations of the College, given our mission, values, and identity?
Vice President of Communications Dan Kim is the chair of the working group, which also includes: Tess Andrekus ’18, Officer of Diversity of the Student Government Association, Brian Duggan ’96, President of the Holy Cross Alumni Association and member of Board of Trustees, Kristyn Dyer ’94, Director of Alumni Relations, Rev. Paul Harman, S.J., Director of Special Projects in Mission, Ed O’Donnell ‘86, History Professor, Marcellis Perkins ’19, member of the Men’s Basketball team, Rose Shea ‘87, Associate Director of Athletics, Brenda Hounsell Sullivan, Director of Office of Student Involvement, Assistant Dean. Boroughs selected the members of the group in an effort to make sure it accurately represented the Holy Cross community.
“It’s a good makeup of professors, staff, alumni and students,” said Andrekus. “They’re bringing people in (to the working group) with different strengths and different skillsets,” O’Donnell said, “but the whole idea is that we’re expecting a very large response from the alumni community, from students, from faculty, and our job is to gather those responses and sort them out.”
The group is not tasked with making a recommendation regarding the mascot and moniker. Rather, they are gathering responses from the community. To that end, the working group has set up a website where people can give their thoughts on the Crusader mascot and moniker. Additionally, the site provides background on the topic. Then, they will compile the responses into a summary that will be submitted to Fr. Boroughs, who will present the summary to the Board of Trustees at their meeting in February, where the Board will make some type of decision based on feedback from the community.
As chair of the working group, Kim’s background in communications will help the working group put together a concise summary of the feedback. This is particularly crucial as the working group expects to receive a large amount of comments and feedback from the Holy Cross community.
“I hope my background in communications helps us as a working group put together a nice summary of the input and feedback that we get from the community,” Kim said. “We’re going to try really hard to present an unbiased summary.”
One of the challenges the group faces is that the issue is not simply a binary yes-or-no issue. Rather, there are various reasons that members of the Holy Cross community might support or oppose changing the mascot and moniker. It is the job of the working group to capture all of these various reasons that stakeholders in the campus community have.
In addition to the online website and feedback form, the working group is also planning on holding at least two live discussion sessions. While the dates aren’t finalized yet, the discussion sessions will most likely be fishbowl events. These events will help enliven the debate on campus as well as educate those who don’t know much about Holy Cross’ relationship with the Crusader mascot and moniker.
While the debate over the mascot and moniker is certainly a controversial issue, both within the Holy Cross community and outside of it, O’Donnell sees the debate as part of the natural course of Holy Cross.
“I see this as a natural moment in the life of any institution, particularly any Jesuit institution, that prizes the value of discernment and compassion and thought and welcoming debate on any issue,” O’Donnell said. “This is the moment where a good institution will take stock and decide what it’s going to do.”
If you have feedback regarding the Crusader mascot and moniker, you can submit it to the working group at https://www.holycross.edu/crusader-moniker-and-mascot.