Here’s something hard to argue with: political discussions are a net good. Through debates, people voice their opinions against dissenters, gain new perspectives and even strengthen and clarify their own positions. Especially on a liberal arts college campus like Amherst, where we are taught to challenge our personal convictions and conceptions of the world, debating the most pressing issues of fiscal and social politics is key.

After years of debate, the issue of Amherst’s unofficial mascot, the Lord Jeff, has finally come before the board of trustees. At its meeting this January, the board of trustees will finally discuss the question of whether Lord Jeffery Amherst should represent this college as our mascot. The Amherst Student urges the board of trustees to publicly condemn the Lord Jeff as an outdated symbol of colonial imperialism and violence that in no way represents our college or our values as a community.

Back from Thanksgiving break, seniors have returned to campus for the tail end of their fall semester. As a graduating class gets ready to approach the “real world,” it is typical for its members to put aside class work and extracurricular activities in favor of bar nights and finding a job. Unfortunately, it can be easy to forget about the community they’ve called home for their most formative years.

The sit-in at Frost Library last Thursday was supposed to last an hour. Most of us expected to leave the library at 2 p.m., believing we would make it to our afternoon classes and evening commitments. Instead, many people stayed in the library for nearly four days straight. Students, faculty, staff and administrators stayed for hours to listen to students speak about their experiences of racism and other forms of discrimination at the college. Students of color shared painful experiences of being marginalized and of feeling invisible yet hyper-exposed.

Democracy is alive at Amherst College, but barely.

Many students on campus have been following the presidential primary race religiously. But few students have any idea what is going on with Amherst’s own student government.

There is no point to having a democratic system if the people it aims to serve do not actively involve themselves in carrying out its functions. AAS meetings are open to the public — yet it’s rare to see non-senators at a meeting. Any student can run for senate — yet each year many senate races are uncontested.

It’s that time of the semester again. Essays, exams and thesis deadlines are coming up fast before the finals push, with internships and job pressures occupying the rest of any remaining free space in most students’ minds. You start wondering whether your hall mates and close friends, who you used to see every day, frankly still attend this school. These last four to five weeks of the semester are composed of repetitions of “We should catch up soon” and “Let’s grab Val together sometime,” but so often those phrases are empty sentiments.

Last week, a 26-year-old student at Umpqua Community College shot an assistant professor and eight students with automatic weapons and, after being wounded by police, fatally shot himself. In his statement to the press, President Obama acknowledged that this is becoming all too common in America. “Somehow this has become routine,” he said. After the attacks at Columbine and Sandy Hook, two of the most famous of school shootings in this country, this was the latest shooting to shock the nation into a state of sadness, unease and frustration.

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