Graphics courtesy of Xavier University | The change in logos for the university signals a possible shift in priorities. The old logo (below, left) represents Xavier’s Jesuit background while the new logo (below, right) places emphasis on Xavier’s athletic “power.” Staff Writer Ryan Kambich examines what this means for the university’s image and how he believes it disrespects Xavier’s heritage.
Recently, you may have noticed a new aesthetic infecting our university. In places like GSC and CLC, Xavier’s hallowed “shield” logo is being replaced by a sleeker “power” X, made famous each March as Xavier’s athletics logo. This is most prevalent on the side of Fenwick Place, where a new version of the student commitment hangs.
This garish change comes as an effort by Xavier Marketing and Communications to rebrand our university and present a new face to the world. The project, reported in the Jan. 25 edition of the Newswire, plays into what Doug Ruschman, Vice President of MarCom, called “a continuation of our trajectory about where we’ve been heading” and replaces the time-honored shield with the athletics X throughout campus.
The rebrand demonstrates a fundamental disrespect for our heritage and chooses the pursuit of recognition over history. It is a telling sign of our university’s priorities.
The old shield logo incorporated important elements of Xavier’s identity in a simple, respectable representation. The shield itself, long understood as a symbol of academia, demonstrated our university’s commitment to academic achievement and cura personalis. Furthermore, incorporated into the logo is the imprint of a cross. As an agnostic student, I am perhaps the least religious individual you’ll meet.
However, I fully acknowledge and feel a deep respect for the Jesuit philosophy that underlies our university’s orientation. The incorporation of the cross speaks to that heritage, making it immediately clear that we are a university committed to justice and changing the world.
By contrast, the “power” X is a cold, sterile design. Subjectively, it is bland and uninteresting, lacking historical gravity or intrigue. Objectively, it communicates little about what we as a university value, sterilizing our dedication to justice and a better world – an odd choice to display alongside our student commitment to such values. Rather, the “power” X has long been associated with the success of our basketball team, the driving factor behind the rebrand. “The ‘X’ is (…) what prospective students know us to be,” Mr. Ruschman explained in January. Therein lies the key; the athletics X has nationwide visibility each year as Xavier dominates during March Madness, and it is the logo prospective students know. We as a university have decided to steer into this impression and rebrand our visual identity along these lines of athletic success. We have sold out, forsaking our academic prestige and Jesuit principles for marketing visibility.
The issue, fundamentally, is one of perception: How do we want others to think of us as an institution, and how do we perceive ourselves? Are we simply a basketball sideshow with no real significance save once per year in March, or are we a serious academic institution with a near two-century history bathed in the Jesuit philosophy?
Furthermore, what function does our branding play – simply a capitalistic ploy to lure in tuition money, or does it serve a higher function, to communicate our academic rigor and standing as a Jesuit force for good? If Xavier is no more than a “brand” then defining ourselves based on the success of our basketball team makes perfect sense. But if we aspire to be something greater, if we are a serious academic institution dedicated to educating men and women for and with others, cura personalis, then let’s set money aside and show that face to the world.
Ryan Kambich is a junior Philosophy, Politics and the Public and economics double major. He is also a staff writer for the Newswire from Deerfield, Ill.