Four New Student Members Join Mascot Committee
Issue   |   Wed, 10/05/2016 - 01:13

The co-chairs of the Student Traditions Committee selected new student members to the Mascot Committee on Sunday, Oct. 2 after an application process that ended on Sept. 27.

The Mascot Committee is comprised of students, alumni, faculty and staff. With the exception of Association of Amherst Students President Karen Blake ’17, the nine students in the committee are part of the Student Traditions Committee. According to Alejandro Nino Quintero ’18, the committee’s co-chair, returning members had planned to select three new members but accepted four due to high interest.

The Mascot Committee formed last semester after Cullen Murphy ’74, chair of the board of trustees, released a statement in January that said the college would stop using Lord Jeff, the college’s former unofficial mascot, in its official communications. The announcement came in the wake of Amherst Uprising student protests last November.

Because Murphy said that the official mascot would not be selected “by decree” and instead called on students and alumni to form a group to facilitate the process, the statement provided a mandate and general framework for the committee, Nino Quintero said.

Shortly after the statement was released, the Student Traditions Committee and Alumni Executive Committee began to meet to discuss the process of selecting a new, official mascot. They formed the Mascot Committee, which consisted of five student members at the time. The committee, which used to be under the jurisdiction of the AAS, has since branched out and filled many seats with at-large members.

Harrison Haigood ’18, the committee’s other co-chair, said the committee is making the process of mascot selection as robust as possible in order to avoid criticism.

The committee will gather the opinions of a wide range of students, alumni, faculty and staff, said Nino Quintero. It plans to host events to raise awareness of the process, and will meet with campus affinity groups, sports teams and publications.

“Our goal is just to facilitate the community-building and make sure we’re as transparent and engaging as possible,” Nino Quintero said.

One of the central aims of the committee is to remain objective. While each student on campus will have a vote, the committee will also consider the opinions of alumni, Nino Quintero said. In collaboration with the the math and statistics departments, the committee has decided to hold a final ranked vote in order to reach a consensus while avoiding runoff voting.

Once the process to submit new mascot ideas opens, the committee anticipates approximately 100 submissions, according to Nino Quintero. Through preliminary votes, it will narrow the submissions to about five choices.

The final vote is scheduled for March 2017, and a final choice must be made by April. The official mascot will be launched during homecoming next year.