Board of Trustees Rejects Lord Jeff
Issue   |   Wed, 02/03/2016 - 01:18
Kyra Gardner '18
Following the board of trustees’ decision to reject the Lord Jeff, President Biddy Martin and chairman of the board Cullen Murphy fielded questions from the campus community during an hour-long live stream on Jan. 28.

The board of trustees announced the removal of Lord Jeffery Amherst as Amherst College’s unofficial mascot on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

The announcement followed the board’s annual meeting on Jan. 21 and 22. The board’s decision stated that the college will no longer use the Lord Jeff in official communications, messaging or symbolism. This includes changing the name of the Lord Jeffery Inn, which the college owns, and phasing out athletic gear displaying the Lord Jeff.

A committee composed of students and alumni will be formed to consider whether Amherst should officially adopt a mascot, and if so, what that mascot may be.

“An official mascot, if there’s to be one, is obviously not something that should be handed down by decree,” chairman of the board Cullen Murphy wrote. “Students and alumni deserve to be on the front lines here.”

The board’s decision follows a semester of debates over the mascot and widespread student activism. In October, the Association of Amherst Students published a letter calling for the removal of the mascot. The mascot was one of the issues confronted by Amherst Uprising, a student-run protest against racial discrimination on campus in November. In an ad-hoc faculty meeting held in response to the protests on Nov. 16, the faculty unanimously voted to condemn the Lord Jeff in an unofficial vote. In an AAS poll of students conducted in December, 83 percent of participants voted to remove the mascot.

President Martin and Murphy spoke about the decision in a one-hour live stream to the campus community on Jan. 28. Members of the Amherst community were invited to email in questions before and during the live stream. The conversation covered topics such as the history of Lord Jeffery Amherst, the student activism of last semester and hopes for increased communication between students and alumni.

According to Murphy, the board’s conversation about the mascot lasted four hours. “[The board] looked at the Lord Jeff issue from every conceivable angle,” Murphy wrote. “I doubt that there was any serious argument or point of view that was not brought up and discussed — often more than once.”

There is no specific time frame for creating the joint committee of students and alumni to discuss the future of the mascot question, according to the board’s statement.

“We should really take our time into thinking about a mascot,” Director of Athletics Don Faulstick said. “This could be a really good opportunity to really build community over something.”

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