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An evangelical Christian college in Idaho is considering dumping the nickname that has identified the school for decades – the Crusaders – because it is considered insensitive and inappropriate.

Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, has fielded Crusaders since at least the 1940s, but next month a less evocative mascot could emerge as the school’s Board of Trustees meets to discuss the issue.

“In the very places where the Church of the Nazarene is reaching out through its colleges and universities [around the world], the term conjures up extremely negative images,” opined the Idaho Statesman recently.

A task force last fall recommended 7-1 that the school, which has 1,500 in its student body, make the change.

“Other students were curious, ‘Why would you have a Crusader mascot?’ To them, it brought up killing and raping and pillaging. Why would you choose to have that represent you? A lot of people think the change is being made for political correctness, and I can understand why they think that,” Nicole Bodenstab, who served on the task force, told the local paper.

“But if that’s the first impression of people when they hear the Crusader mascot, then maybe we’re sending the wrong message.”

Proponents of the change note that when the “Crusader Choir” sang concerts in England, the group was asked to go by a different name.

Some students are resolute about keeping the Crusader mascot in place.

“I feel that the Crusaders is part of what we at NNU are, not in the sense of the Crusades, but that we can be crusaders for Christ,” student body Vice President Shannon Bell said. “If we’re going to take away the Crusaders, some people equate it to saying ‘Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas.’ You can’t make everyone happy, and we’re taking a stand in our Christian faith.”

Most in the athletic department favor leaving the Crusaders name in place. Making a change could cost upwards of $50,000, the Statesman reported.

The paper suggests Cavaliers or Knights as a permanent replacement for Crusaders.

Blogger Robert Duncan is an alumnus of NNU who opposes the change. In a tongue-in-cheek letter to university President Richard A. Hagood, Duncan wrote:

“I would like to suggest that NNU consider adopting a plant as its mascot, and especially one that imbues pure humbleness: the pensive and sublime ‘Viola tricolor hortensis.’

“I can think of nothing that would be more fitting than to hear at future sporting events that loud and clear cheer: ‘Let’s go, Pansies!’”

There is precedent for Nazarene schools to cast off the Crusaders moniker. The mascot of Point Loma Nazarene University used to be Crusaders, but now its teams go by the Sea Lions.

Wheaton College, the evangelical school in Illinois, was the Crusaders for 70 years but dropped the name in 2000.

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