In late June, a Facebook group titled “Coalition to Retire the Crusader” received the attention of students, alumni, staff and faculty. The group has since grown to over 2,000 members.
The group was created by Valpo alumnus Kevin York, Class of 2006. According to York, the idea for a Facebook group came when some alumni began having conversations about the retirement of the Crusader.
According to York, the Crusader is no longer a unifying symbol as Valpo has become more diverse.
“Every time that conversation comes up one of us always comments [about] how has that not changed yet and as we talked about it more we wondered if there's a greater swath of alumni out there who are really looking for this change to happen,” York said.
Mike Nevergall, Class of 2005, was a part of the initial group that York had started the conversation with. According to Nevergall, the idea to retire the crusader was received better than they expected.
“The Facebook group surprised us a little bit with how quickly it took off, how quickly it grew which is really exciting to see,” Nevergall said.
According to York, the Facebook group had grown to more than 2,000 within the first week and a half.
“To us that was an indicator that there is more of an appetite from people, not just alumni at this point because there were faculty, staff, [and] current students who joined the group,” York said.
According to Nevergall, the original purpose of the “Coalition to Retire the Crusader” group was to gain support and momentum for the cause.
“The purpose was largely to drum up energy and support for this cause and then to be able to have a way to quickly reach a group of people and encourage them to take further steps,” Nevergall said.
The next steps for the group includes a website, a petition and an independent email account.
“[The goal was] To be able to have that Facebook group as a jumping off point and of course not everybody uses Facebook. We know that something like a stand alone website, an email account, different things like that will allow people to engage even if they don’t use Facebook,” Nevergall said.
The most immediate action taken by the group will be the launch of the website.
“A website that can be a landing for a number of different activities including educational information, about why the crusader is problematic and why it should be changed, a petition and other ideas of actions, steps that people can take,” Nevergall said.
According to Nevergall, the goal of the coalition is to get the University leadership to publicly commit to retiring the Crusader.
“Our call in this process is not to determine what that new thing should be. Our new call has been that the university leadership should publicly commit to the retirement of the Crusader. The discussion about what replaces it, how you pay for it, all those kinds of things that can all happen over the next year, two years, three years even,“ Nevergall said.
Since the coalition has begun Valpo has announced Interim President, Colette Irwin-Knott, will replace President Heckler. However, according to York this does not pose a threat to the coalition’s goal.
“I don’t think that changes a lot because we realized that it's not him [Heckler] or the Interim President that has that sole authority to make that change, it's really the Board of Directors. The plan hasn’t changed just who we are directing it to,” York said.
Another Facebook group was created in response to the Coalition titled “Save the VU Crusader” and has since changed its name to “VU Crusader Reasonable Discussion Forum”. The Torch requested to interview the admin of this group and is awaiting a reply.