Capital University starts process of selecting new nickname, mascot

CHRIS BOURNEA
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ThisWeek group

Capital University's board of trustees announced July 13 they approved a resolution to change the university's nickname, the Crusaders, and mascot, Cappy, with a timeline yet to be determined.

The decision came after a 15-month study, Capital board chairman Andre Porter and interim president Dave Kaufman said in a joint statement posted on the university's website, capital.edu.

"We believe that the university nickname and mascot should be a unifying symbol that enhances school spirit and pride for all who are affiliated with Capital," the statement said. "In recent years, our nickname has been challenged by students and faculty for its connection to the historic Crusades. The detailed study found a significant portion of the Capital family shares this perspective."

According to the executive summary of the study, also posted on the website, immediate past president Elizabeth Paul established the mascot study group in March 2019 to explore how the nickname and mascot represented the university, its mission and values. The 16-member group consisted of Capital trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni and representatives from athletics, the main university, the law school and Trinity Lutheran Seminary.

"The president noted that concerns about the nickname and mascot are not new as these issues have been raised periodically over the years," the executive summary states.

From March 2019 through November 2019, the mascot study group held focus groups and open forums, conducted an opinion survey and submitted a final report to Paul in December.

The report concluded that although Capital adopted the Crusader nickname in the early 1960s without intending to offend or exclude anyone, the word "crusader" is problematic when it refers to or connects to the events of the Crusades and to oppression, injustice and violence they represent.

The Crusades were a series of religious wars between Christians and Muslims from 1096 and 1291 to gain control of sites considered sacred to both groups, according to history.com.

"The group was in agreement that something must be done relative to the nickname and mascot, as maintaining the status quo leaves the issue unresolved and would be dismissive of those who have raised concerns," the executive summary states.

University leadership will create a timeline for exploring and transitioning to a new nickname and mascot after the current challenges of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic have subsided, Porter and Kaufman said. In the coming months, students, alumni, faculty, staff will have opportunities to participate in the formation of the new name and the transition process, the statement said.

"We believe this decision is a positive step forward. It's an opportunity to unite the Capital community around our shared values and mission," Porter and Kaufman said in their statement. "It will also enable us to further engage the entire university in the important conversation around diversity, inclusion, equity and human dignity."

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