Not the Amherst College faculty—at long last. After growing discontent over racial insensitivity at the liberal arts college, inspired by the student movements at Mizzou and Yale, the faculty voted unanimously on Monday to give up the controversial mascot. The college’s Board of Trustees will make the final decision in January.
Lord Jeffrey Amherst, or “Lord Jeff,” as he is known on campus, is the eighteenth-century British general best known for giving smallpox blankets to the Native Americans. Or, as he put it: “You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.”
Lord Jeff was never Amherst’s official mascot, but the student newspaper routinely calls its sports teams “the Lord Jeffs” (or, even more awkwardly, “Lady Jeffs”). The most popular school song has the line, “To the Frenchmen and the Indians he didn’t do a thing.” (The college’s choral society has decided to stop singing the song.)
It’s been a long time coming for Lord Jeff. But that doesn’t answer the question: Who in the world ever thought a mascot who looks like this was a good idea?