BY SYDNEY MUSSER, ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
Susquehanna’s mascot has always been the Crusaders, but exactly what image that title projects has changed considerably throughout the university’s history.
The title of “Crusaders” has long been an item of debate, primarily because of the distinctively negative connotations that the term carries.
The Crusades were a series of medieval religious military campaigns launched by Pope Urban II, which spiraled into an infamously aggressive, bloody and violent period of history. Naturally, not many people would want to be associated with such historical barbarity and devastation. So, why the Crusaders?
“It actually has everything to do with a name given to us,” Director of Student Activities Brent Papson said. “It was all about athletics in the 20th Century, and the fact that we [Susquehanna] stuck to amateur athletics. We were nicknamed the ‘little crusaders’ for how well we performed, despite not being professional, and it’s considered something to be proud of. That’s why our alumni base and the university have chosen to hold on to the name. What we’re embracing is not the historical concept of the Crusader.”
The Caped Crusader, or the cape-wearing tiger character, was conceived in the late 1990s, and formally introduced in 2001. Since then, it has served as the embodiment of Susquehanna’s mascot. But that particular depiction of the Crusaders has been a source of irritation among Susquehanna’s student body.
“We had a lot of talk around campus last year…arguments were made that since the tiger came from administrators, we wanted to let students pick the mascot,” Papson said.
Student perception of the Caped Crusader varied, but a majority of the reactions were negative.
Junior Paris Campbell said: “I always thought it was kind of strange. I knew what a Crusader was, and it was [historically] someone who killed Muslims, so I thought it was weird that we used a tiger to be symbolic of that.”
Campbell certainly was not the only student to host that opinion.
Sophomore Emma Waite said: “I was confused about why we had a tiger. I mean, it was orange and since our colors are maroon and orange, it made sense…but it was still kind of weird.” As a result, the Student Government Association hosted an online poll for students to vote for a new mascot. While the name was still required to be “Crusaders,” students had the option to vote for a squirrel, a creature or the original tiger to use as the character and embodiment of the Crusaders.
The squirrel was the clear winner, with the tiger stealing second place and the creature taking third.
Papson said, “We received 644 votes for the mascot poll, which is more than what we get for SGA elections. For SGA elections, we’re lucky if we get 100 [votes], so we had quite a turnout for this. The squirrel got over 300 votes. It really won by a considerable amount.”
But despite earning the most votes, the result left scores of students disgruntled.
Campbell said: “I’ll admit that I did joke about it being cute if we were the Susquehanna Squirrels, but now I don’t know how profound it makes us. Look at Bucknell, for example. They’re the Bucknell Bison and that just gives off a strong college presence. I don’t know if squirrels are exactly that presence that we needed.”
However, the idea of being portrayed as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed squirrel is not all that students took issue with.
Sophomore Rae Sawyer said: “I don’t understand why they’re changing the look but not the name. If it’s the name that is offensive, then that’s what needs to be fixed. Changing the mascot doesn’t make sense. SU Squirrels is quirky, but it would make a lot more sense to just change the name.”
Despite the apparent discontent with the final decision, Papson encouraged students to consider the more unusual, and sometimes more offensive, mascots of other professional teams, such as the Ohio State Buckeyes, who have a nut for a mascot, or the controversial Washington Redskins.
“If people are worried about the squirrel not being ferocious enough, think about Elizabethtown College’s Blue Jays, or the Baltimore Orioles, or even the Philadelphia Phillies. The Philly Phanatic? What even is that thing?” he said. “How many teams can you even consider to be ‘intimidating?’”
Designs for the squirrel mascot are currently being accepted until April 4. They can be submitted to Brooke Renna.