The Crusader changes its name…but not for the reasons people may think

Change can be tough, but changing the name of a college media outlet can be truly brutal. The entire campus, faculty, staff and students, has an opinion. But so do alumni and former campus workers, and sometimes people who have no real connection to your school.

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Crusader headers through the years

But that didn’t stop the staff of the student newspaper at the College of the Holy Cross from tackling the decision to change the name of the paper from The Crusader to The Spire.

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The new masthead of the first-ever The Spire

As the editors in chief outline so beautifully in twin editorials, James Gallagher, Jack Godar and the staff have been investigating the possibility for more than a year. As James writes in his piece, the conversation “was prompted by a letter, signed by nearly fifty faculty members, which was submitted to the managing editors of The Crusader one year ago. It argued that, given the rising tide of xenophobia in the American political sphere and the fact that The Crusader shared a name with a KKK-sponsored newspaper, perhaps a name change should be considered.”

The student staff started discussing the issue, but wanted to bring in more voices, and that process took up more than a year.

“We wanted [any possible new name to] to convey respect for tradition, but highlight something better about ourselves,” James said. “We wanted to be democratic. [We encouraged] pieces in the paper, public discussion. We are proud at how long it took. We feel we brought in all the perspectives.”

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James Gallagher

This means that the group that made the decision is not the same group that heard the first suggestion. But this group stands by the decision.

“[It might] not seem controversial outside the Holy Cross bubble,” James said, “But inside it is controversial. We hear lots of angry reactions.”

That didn’t surprise him though. What did was the reaction of people outside the Holy Cross community.

“[I was surprised] how others outside the Holy Cross community were willing to turn it into culture clash,” James said. “I was also surprised by how people who obviously don’t read things, but have really in depth opinions about [them].”

He said this was obvious by how many people accused the staff of changing the name because the paper shared a name with a KKK publication, even though the editorial explicitly states they did not.

To complicate matters, the College of Holy Cross was also considering renaming their mascot, The Crusader, at the same time. But James said the paper made the decision to change the name a month ago and announced it in coordination with their first print publication. Days ahead of the university’s announcement that the mascot would not be changed.

“No matter what we say, people will say we were trying to influence the decision,” James said. The people in [the newsroom] have the right to make this kind of decision. We made the decision about a month before we announced.”

He said the paper did let the school know about their decision and that the staff “didn’t want it to be seen as reactionary, not a response.” It was their decision based on their own research and input collecting.

He said the best thing for media outlets who might be considering a name change to do is take their time.

“People will respond the way they are going to no matter how graceful your editorial is,” James said. “The process being as long as it was benefited us because we could hold discussions, we published a lot of opinions from students. We didn’t want to seem like one day we decided we don’t like this [name] anymore and changed it. Engage in a long and well thought out process.”

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