Go Nighthawks! Nampa’s Northwest Nazarene University adopted the Northwestern bird as its new mascot, the school announced Monday.
The idea had been brewing for a couple of years as students increasingly suggested that the original mascot — the Crusaders — did not represent NNU’s core values.
The Crusades were a violent series of holy wars fought in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.
Starting in 2016, the university stopped using its traditional image of a knight in armor.
NNU President Joel Pearsall surprised the student body when he officially announced the change Monday at morning chapel. The Crusaders name is now completely removed from the school’s logo.
“We’re a global university and we have missionaries all over the world, and in some countries, that’s not a great image,” said NNU media relations specialist Rob O’Donahue.
For its new mascot the board turned to nature. A nighthawk is a nocturnal bird native to the Western Hemisphere. Nighthawk is also a Marvel Comics super villain turned superhero. And “Nighthawks” is a famous painting by Edward Hopper.
NNU will develop the image for its new mascot in the coming weeks.
Mascots have long been a flashpoint for controversy because some of the cliches they portray are considered racist and insulting.
Idaho’s Salmon High School and Salmon River High School continue to use the Savages as their mascots. Salmon High stopped officially using the Native American image after a 1999 lawsuit alleged that it was racist.
Orofino High School uses Maniacs, a nod to the fact that the city is home to State Hospital North, an Idaho psychiatric hospital.