I know that Lord Jeff, our quondam mascot, has hardly been buried, right next to The Moose, his would-be successor. So I hope it won’t appear too ugly to be rushing in with a modest proposal for a modest mascot. If not, I’d like to present to you for your earnest consideration, ladies and gentlemen, the Hamster. Now before you cast wild regretful eyes upon Lord Jeff with sighs of “What a falling off was there!” let us take a moment to consider the Hamster. It has a lot going for it.
— Hamsters are mammals. This is good. Most Amherst students and alumni are too.
— Some hamsters are male and some are female. This is also good since our college is co-ed.
— Hamsters come in a veritable cornucopia of colors and hairstyles, and from all around the world. Again, a plus. We are now a very diverse college.
— Hamsters are nocturnal creatures and are especially active at night. Students here have been known to burn the midnight oil.
— Hamsters enjoy playing on hamster wheels, infernal contraptions to which many an Amherst student has compared the social-scholastic pressures at Amherst College. (Heads up: the college has plans to install hamster wheel standing desks in all new dorm rooms.)
— Our college is now very much about doing the right thing by its students. And unlike most other four- or even two-legged creatures, the hamster has played a role in advancing human rights. According to Wikipedia (so this must be true), “In 1774, Friedrich Gabriel Sulzer, a companion of Johann-Wolfgang von Goethe, devoted a whole academic monograph in the domain of social sciences and natural history to hamsters, entitled ‘An approach to a natural history of the hamster.’ In several instances, he used the hamster to document the equal rights of all beings, including Homo sapiens. Check it out yourselves: The book, Versuch einer Naturgeschichte des Hamsters, is available from Amazon. (The original’s cover is lovely.)
— Hamsters can be very cute but they can also be mean-ass vicious. This is good for a sports mascot.
— “Hamster” rhymes with “gangsta,” which could prove very useful.
— Die-hards can still sing the old songs: “Oh, Lord Jeffery Hamster was a rodent of the King…”
— Finally, there is the most compelling reason. “Hamster” is an anagram — the only anagram — of “Amherst.” The significance of this fact cannot be overstated. Most features of this college are subject to change: our size, our student composition, our faculty’s IQ, how well endowed we are, the number of cereals on offer in Val and on and on. But there is one fact about Amherst that will never change. For the board of trustees has declared: “Amherst College will always be the name of the school.” Hence “hamster” will always be spot-on. It will never be dated, never be overtaken by a changing institution or shifting moral standards. It is now and will remain forever the scrambled mirroring of who we are and always will be. Lord Jeff is dead. Long live the Hamster.