Northwest Nazarene University is retiring the crusader as their mascot effective immediately.
The nighthawk, a semi-nocturnal bird found across the country every summer, will serve as Northwest Nazarene’s newest mascot.
The change by the private, Christian school's board of trustees comes after years of ramping down the use of the crusader due to community, student and alumni concerns.
They say the nickname and mascot could be associated with violence and destruction, though the board notes the term was historically associated with someone “committed to a worthy cause.”
Crusades, also known as holy wars, began in the late 11th century. These waves of military campaigns to retake historically Christian-held territory from Muslim influence lasted nearly 200 years.
In 2006, Northwest Nazarene dropped any logo with an image of a crusader and deemphasized its use in athletics.
Reaction to the decision was mixed. On the university's website, some commenters claim it washes over the original intent: to be a crusader for Jesus Christ. Others applauded the move, noting that it overcomes a potential barrier when speaking to others about religious views.
School officials say existing trophies and banners will still bear the Crusaders name.
A new logo for the Nighthawks mascot is still in the works.