I am not familiar with the College of the Holy Cross in particular, but we are all too well acquainted with the disheartening spectacle of an institution of higher learning, bearing a Catholic name, behaving as if it has no idea of who or what it is any longer. Since I can't keep track of the track record for all the ostensibly Catholic institutions in our country, I rely on the Cardinal Newman Society to do this for me; this fine organization performs the heroic duty of reporting instances of infidelity by Catholic colleges and universities. So, I did a Google search of "Holy Cross college Massachusetts Newman Society,"* and as I feared, received back a plentiful list of links that paint a picture. I hasten to point out I have not investigated all these links; I will leave that to you.
Let's just stick to the question presented here: is it a bad thing to be a crusader? Contemporary "thought" (which is increasingly the opposite) would say so; but if pressed, does a very poor job of explaining why. What, exactly, is a Crusader? Well, of course, that's easy. While Wikipedia must not be relied on for exact information, it's useful for a general sense of things. Here's what you get there:
Crusader, a participant in one of the Crusades. See Category:People of the Crusades and List of principal Crusaders
Crusader states, states set up by the Europeans in the Balkans and the Middle East during The Crusades
Crusader tank, a British cruiser tank of World War II
HMS Crusader, three British naval ships
Operation Crusader, a British attack in North African campaign in World War II
VMFA-122 Crusaders, a United States Marine Corps fixed wing fighter-attack squadron 122
XM2001 Crusader, an American self-propelled artillery project
Crusaders (guerrilla), a Croatian anti-communist guerrilla army
Crusader (speedboat), the jet speedboat in which John Cobb died
Crusader (train), a streamlined train which operated between 1937 and 1981
Crusader, a GWR 3031 Class locomotive that was built for and ran on the Great Western Railway between 1891 and 1915
Crusader ambulance (original version named Crusader 900), a type of emergency ambulance in widespread use in the United Kingdom, originally developed by the St John Ambulance Brigade
F-8 Crusader, a U.S. Navy fighter jet
XF8U-3 Crusader III, an experimental fighter intended to replace the F-8 and compete with the F-4 Phantom II
Short Crusader, a racing seaplane built by Short Brothers
American Gyro AG-4 Crusader an aircraft built by the Crusader Aircraft Corporation
Cessna T303 Crusader
And that's just the first three categories; further down are sports teams, publications and the like.
Notice something? Lots of people seemed to think that being a "Crusader" was an admirable thing. Why did they think that?
Of course, all this originates with the first entry listed, above: those who went on one of the several Crusades to liberate the Holy Land from invasion and conquest by armies carrying the banner of Islam.
Now, lots of things happened in the course of the Crusades that we -- or anyone of any age -- wished did not happen. But so what? There were moral failures by the Allies in World War II, some pretty significant* -- but acknowledging this fact does not call into question the legitimacy of the Allies' overall effort; and if someone were to claim that such failures create any sort of moral equivalency between the Allies and the Axis, that is both incoherent and obscene.
The comparison between the Allies and the Crusaders is entirely apt, as both were a response to aggression. Indeed, this isn't just something I came up with; notice the entries, above, of uses of "crusader" in association with World War II. By the way, do you know what symbol Charles de Gaulle, the hero of the French resistance to Axis conquest, chose as the emblem of the Free French forces? Here is the banner that sons of France bore as they liberated their homeland (click on image for more information):
To be a Crusader is to carry the Cross, including into battle in protection of the Christian faith and those who practice it. There is no reason to be embarrassed about it. For those who sneer at warriors entering battle with religious purpose, I ask: do we fight for better reasons today? Do we wage war more nobly, when we shed religious impulses? The presence of the Cross on the shields and the lips of the Crusaders served to elevate them; what would they have been without faith? More like us in the 20th and 21st century, I suspect (and not in a good way). The generation that avoids war without dishonor can sit in judgment of the Crusaders; but that generation doesn't exist yet, sadly.
Let me correct one thing: there is one reason to be embarrassed by the name "Crusader" -- and that is if you are embarrassed by the Cross. If the College of the Holy Cross has reached that point, I would ask, can we have back, not the name of your sports teams, but the name of your college?
* What do I have in mind? In World War II, many immoral and disreputable actions and omissions occurred on the part of the Allies; both on the part of individual figures, field commanders, and national leaders. Most notable would be the use of indiscriminate bombing, the destruction of Dresden, the use of atomic bombs in Japan, and the failure to do more to assist the Jews and others who were being systematically exterminated. These moral failures were faulted at the time, and have been since, especially by leading Catholic figures, such as various popes, and bishops such as Ven. Fulton Sheen. Feel free to look it up.