The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, has decided to keep its "Crusaders" nickname despite concerns from some students and staff that the name could be offensive to Muslims.
The school's board of trustees voted on Feb. 3 to keep its century-old sports name, explaining that it sees the name in a modern light.
"While we acknowledge that the Crusades were among the darkest periods in Church history, we choose to associate ourselves with the modern definition of the word crusader, one which is representative of our Catholic, Jesuit identity and our mission and values as an institution and community," read an email from Jesuit Father Philip L. Boroughs, president of the college, and John J. Mahoney, the chair of the board. "We are not simply crusaders, we are Holy Cross Crusaders," it added.
Boroughs and Mahoney explained that the nickname was chosen by the student body in 1925, adding that the literal definition of the word is "one who is marked by the cross of Christ."
The email, which was sent to the college community on Saturday, further contended that this "was appropriate for our institution's Jesuit and Catholic intellectual and spiritual tradition."
The decision came a day after staff of the student newspaper, also known as "The Crusader," announced that they were changing the publication's name to "The Spire."
The newspaper explained in a recent editorial that the name change was necessary because of "the violence and massacres" associated with the medieval Crusades.
According to the Boston Herald, the concerns about the nickname was first raised in a 2016 report compiled by a campus committee tasked with examining the sports name and Mulledy Hall, a building named in honor of a Jesuit who is believed to be associated with the slave trade.
Two public forums had been held on the issues and more than 1,800 responses had been received by a working group created last fall over the eight weeks of campus input.
While College of the Holy Cross has decided to keep the nickname, some universities have decided to drop the moniker.
Last year, Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania, announced that it would change the name of its sports teams from Crusaders to the Golden Wolves. The school clarified that the name change was not part of an effort to be politically correct, but to create a stronger tie to its patron saint, Francis of Assisi, who is said to once have tamed a wolf terrorizing an Italian town.
The university also explained that Assissi went to Egypt and tried to convert the sultan in an attempt to end the conflict during the Fifth Crusade.