A group of students and faculty are working together to remove Cappy the Crusader as the university’s mascot.
Over the weekend, Dr. Sally Stamper, a professor of religion, emailed President Paul about changing the mascot; she said she thinks the current mascot is “a fundamentally offensive character.”
Stamper said the affiliation with the Crusades is an “odd association for a Lutheran school,” that it doesn’t fit with Capital’s value of inclusivity, and said it is particularly offensive as many students at Capital and members of the Bexley community are Jewish or Muslim; groups that were targeted during the crusades.
Stamper said she has periodically raised the issue with the mascot throughout her time as a professor at Capital, but Saturday’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh brought the issue stronger into her mind.
“[The shooting] is a compelling reason to just stop now and remove now from any part of our identity anything that is at its core a symbol of Christian supremacy,” Stamper said. “… After Saturday, I don’t see how in good conscience we can sustain this.”
Moriah Reichert, a senior religious studies major, has started a petition to change the mascot. She announced the roll out of the petition at the Hinges Conference Tuesday night.
She said this project has been in the works for a while and she planned to take a slower approach to the issue, but after the shooting in Pittsburgh, she felt things had to change.
“It brought into very clear focus that the time is now and the time was actually yesterday and long ago,” Reichert said. “… If we are to be CapFam, then to do what our mission says, ‘to change lives for a brighter tomorrow,’ I think that crusader is not a brighter tomorrow.”
Reichert said that there will be room in the discussion for those who disagree with the change because of the history associated with the current mascot.
“It feels odd and uncomfortable to say that this thing that we have stood behind and supported, and that lots of us have had joy and success as a part of … is not good enough anymore,” Reichert said.
Stamper explained that Cappy’s costume doesn’t actually depict a crusader, but rather a Roman centurion or Spartan.
“A crusader costume would be a knight with a cross on his chest,” Stamper said. “… I never hear anyone complain that we don’t have a crusader costume [for Cappy].”
While she doesn’t know how long Capital has been attached to the crusader mascot, Stamper said before Cappy, the mascot was the fighting Lutherans.
“I assume that they changed because [the fighting Lutherans] seemed outdated at a school that has many students who are not Lutheran,” Stamper said. “For the same reason, at a school that has many students from groups that were targeted by the crusades, I think ‘crusader’ is a really outdated image.”
Stamper said many other schools have gotten rid of their crusader mascot, and if Capital doesn’t take “decisive action” on the issue now, the university might eventually be shamed into leaving the crusader behind.
“If we have to be shamed by outsiders into changing rather than taking initiative ourselves, that would be really too bad,” Stamper said. “We would deserve it, but it would be too bad.”
Although she and Stamper don’t have a set idea of what she would like the new mascot to be, Reichert said she wants the whole Capital community, from the law school to the seminary as well as undergraduate students, to be involved in the process.
“The mascot is something that, by our affiliation with Capital in all of those different ways, says something about each of us and I think that [the crusader image] is not honest to who we want to be and who we are as an institution,” Reichert said.
The petition is available through the Embrace Facebook page: Facebook.com/EmbraceCapital.
The Chimes wants to hear your thoughts on the issue! Look out for our Twitter poll on the issue this week or submit longer opinion pieces (of about 500 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grant Sharratt, Capital alumnus, responded with a letter to the editor.