Amherst Mascot? Updated October 20, 2017

 

Why did Amherst seek a new mascot?

In January of 2016, the Board of Trustees issued a statement announcing that Lord Jeffery Amherst would no longer be used in any official capacity by the College. In his statement, Cullen Murphy ’74, chair of the Board of Trustees, wrote the following: “The aim will be to generate as much engagement as possible, and to find something—something organically associated with Amherst, reflecting our collective history—that we can all rally around. That is what mascots are supposed to provide.”

Who managed the selection process?

Following the Board Statement, the Board and President Biddy Martin asked the Executive Committee to convene a larger Mascot Committee to include students, faculty and staff. This Committee met several times in spring 2016. This Mascot Committee managed the process of selecting a new mascot with technical and administrative support from staff in the office of Alumni and Parent Programs. View the Mascot Committee members here.

Why did Amherst need to select a new mascot now?

A large contingent of students desired a mascot. In the absence of a process for deciding what a new mascot should be, another unofficial concept could readily emerge - but without the shared input of the entire college community. The Mascot Committee felt that it was important to move forward on the process, as it was the best way of ensuring that a mascot is properly vetted by the broader Amherst community and that a new mascot best unifies/represents it.

What were the goals of the mascot selection process?

The goals for the process were to:

  • ensure a transparent process and decision-making,
  • maximize constituent participation and feedback, and
  • advance community-building, particularly between students and alumni.

What was the timeline for mascot selection?

  • October 24-November 30 – an open call for mascot suggestions took place.
  • December/January – The Mascot Committee winnowed down hundreds of submissions to less than 30 semifinalists that best unify and represent the Amherst community using criteria.
  • February – The Mascot Committee sought input from a representative group of alumni and student Delegates who rated and ranked the remaining semifinalists according to criteria and alumni and student feedback. The Mascot Committee used the delegate ratings to identify the top 5 mascot ideas.
  • March/April – In an instant run-off election, the entire Amherst community had the opportunity to vote on the final mascot.
  • The winning mascot was announced on April 3, 2017.
  • The mascot visuals were formally introduced on October 20, 2017.

Who was able to submit mascot ideas?

The submission period concluded on Nov. 30. Amherst alumni, students, faculty and staff submitted suggestions for the new mascot.

What criteria were used to narrow down the submissions received?

The new mascot should:

  • Be unifying for the Amherst campus and larger Amherst community;
  • Represent positive qualities, ideals, or associations around which people can rally;
  • Be broadly relevant across the Amherst community, student body, and among generations of alumni;
  • Be representative of the Amherst experience or history, either generally or specifically;
  • Work equally well for women’s and men’s sports teams; and
  • Have the potential to translate in a visually pleasing manner.

When were initial submissions, semifinalists and finalists shared with the Amherst community?

  • The list of mascot suggestions received was made available after December 7.
  • The list of semifinalists was made available in early January.
  • The list of finalists was made available in mid-March.

Why didn’t my suggestion make it to the semifinalist / finalist list?

A total of 2,046 mascot suggestions were received by the November 30 deadline. The committee spent December reviewing submitted mascot ideas and rationale, applying criteria, and winnowing the suggestions down to a list of 30 semifinalists. These 30 semifinalists represent the best ideas able to:

  • be unifying for the Amherst campus and larger Amherst community;
  • represent positive qualities, ideals or associations around which people can rally;
  • be broadly relevant across the Amherst community, the student body and generations of alumni;
  • be representative of the Amherst experience or history, either generally or specifically;
  • work equally well for women’s and men’s sports teams; and
  • have the potential to translate in a visually pleasing manner.

Those semifinalists were further reduced to 5 finalists with input from 441 student and alumni delegates. If your suggestion did not appear on the semifinalist or finalist list, the committee concluded that it was not as effective at meeting the criteria as the concepts that were promoted.

Additionally, when reducing the mascot ideas to 30 semifinalist, the committee made the decision to not advance the suggestions that directly or indirectly derive from actual individual people. These included; Frost, Zephs/Zephyrs, Emilys, etc. The committee concluded that mascots based on specific people or historical figures are not likely to be unifying. A new mascot based on one person would potentially be subject to similar challenges that arose with the previous unofficial mascot. Another factor is that it would be impossible for a single individual to adequately represent the Amherst experience for the breadth of the alumni and student body at this time, and into a future that we cannot anticipate. A final consideration was that a mascot based on a real person may not work equally well for women's and men's sports teams.

What was the role of the alumni and student delegates?

441 student and alumni delegates participated in in an exercise where they rated all of the semifinalists according to criteria and constituent feedback, ranked their top five, and shared written comments in support of their first choice. This input was shared with the Mascot Committee.

Who were the delegates?

The following categories of alumni volunteers were invited to participate to be delegates, and are representative of the alumni body as a whole: Volunteer Summit participants; Trustee Nominating Committee; Class Presidents and Vice Presidents; Friends of Amherst Athletics Executive Committee; Regional Association Presidents. An equal number of student delegates will be invited to participate and will be representative of the student body.

How was feedback on the semifinalists shared with delegates?

A feedback form was provided on the mascot website so that all alumni, students, faculty and staff could share their feedback on the list. All feedback submissions were shared with delegates. Some delegates used other tools to gather feedback from their constituents such as online surveys, emails, listservs and social media threads.

Who was able to vote?

Amherst students, alumni, faculty, staff and widows were able vote for the five final ideas.

I am an Amherst Parent. Where could I have participated in the process?

Parents were able to participate in the process by sharing mascot ideas with their Amherst student or alumnus/a. There was no limit to how many ideas that students or alumni would suggest. Parents did not have a role in the final vote. The mascot decision was made by those whose identities are -or were- regularly impacted by daily experience as part of the Amherst College community. This includes students, alumni, faculty members and staff.

How did the Mascot Committee identify the 5 finalists?

In February the Mascot Committee solicited the input of delegates to inform their decision making. A group of 441 representative alumni and student delegates participated in an exercise where they rated all of the semifinalists according to criteria and constituent feedback, ranked their top five, and shared written comments in support of their first choice. The Mascot Committee referred to these results, to the rationale provided with original submissions, and to criteria in determining the top five choices able to:

  • be unifying for the Amherst campus and larger Amherst community;
  • represent positive qualities, ideals or associations around which people can rally;
  • be broadly relevant across the Amherst community, the student body and generations of alumni;
  • be representative of the Amherst experience or history, either generally or specifically;
  • work equally well for women’s and men’s sports teams; and
  • have the potential to translate in a visually pleasing manner.

How did the final vote work?

In instant-runoff voting, each voter ranks the list of choices in order of preference. The mechanics of the process are the same regardless of how many choices the voter ranks and how many are left unranked. In the mascot voting, voters could rank as many or as few choices as they wished. In the first round, the first choice of each voter is counted and used to order the five choices. Once all the first-choice votes are counted, if one choice holds a majority, that choice wins. If not, the choice that holds the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated. Ballots for the eliminated choice are reviewed and redistributed to one of the remaining choices based on the next preference on each ballot. The process repeats until one choice achieves a majority of votes. In this way, the least popular options are eliminated, and the idea with the most votes will prevail. The aim was to choose a mascot with the most shared support. The use of instant run-off voting, as is used in alumni trustee elections, ensured this outcome.

This vote will follow the Rules and Regulations for the Election of Trustees by the Graduates of Amherst College from the bylaws.

Section 7.  Said Inspectors of Election or a majority of them shall receive and count all votes and ballots according to the following rules:

1. All the ballots shall first be counted according to the first choices indicated on them and the total number of valid ballots cast for each candidate as first choice determined.

2. If any candidate receives a majority of the first choices, he/she shall be declared elected.

3. If no candidate receives such a majority, the candidate with fewest first-choice ballots to his/her credit shall be declared defeated and his/her ballots shall be transferred each to the candidate marked on it as next choice among the undefeated candidates. Any ballot which indicates no choice among the undefeated candidates shall be set aside as ineffective.

4. If still no candidate has a majority of the effective ballots to his/her credit, the candidate then lowest on the poll shall be declared defeated and his/her ballots transferred similarly to the candidate marked on it as next choice among the undefeated candidates.

5. Lowest candidates shall be declared defeated successively and their ballots transferred in the same way until one candidate is found to have more ballots to his/her credit than all the other undefeated candidates together.

6. As soon as a candidate is found to have a majority of the effective ballots, he/ she shall be declared elected.

7. If, when a candidate is to be declared defeated, two or more candidates are tied at the bottom of the poll, then one of the tied candidates shall be declared defeated who was credited with fewest ballots just before the last transfer of ballots. If two or more of the tied candidates were tied at that stage of the count also, the second tie shall be decided, if necessary, by referring similarly to the standing of candidates just before the last transfer of ballots before that. This principle shall be applied successively as many times as may be necessary, a tie at any stage of the count being decided by referring to the standing of the tied candidates just before the last preceding transfer of ballots. Any tie not otherwise provided for shall be decided by lot.

Will Lord Jeff references be scrubbed from the College’s materials?

No. The College has no desire to change or erase the historical record or its past connection to Lord Jeffery Amherst. The Mammoths name will simply be used going forward.

Can alumni still sing the Lord Jeffery Amherst fight song?

The College will not interfere with freedom of expression in any form. (The Board’s statement on January 26, 2016 made this clear.)

When and how will be the mascot logo be introduced?

The mascot logo was developed under the Office of Communications by Pentagram, the world’s largest independently-owned design studio, and with input from alumni, students, faculty and staff. The new mascot logo made its debut during Homecoming events on Friday, October 20, 2017.

What is the status of the renaming of the Lord Jeffery Inn?

The process of renaming the Inn, which is separate from the mascot election, continues. Its goal is to identify options that are appropriate to the relationship among the Inn, the Town, and the College.

How soon will the athletics teams be branded with this official mascot? How will they be branded?

The development of the mascot logo will begin very soon. Now that work on the logo is complete, its inclusion on athletics venues, uniforms and promotional materials will begin to take shape. In the meantime, all current Amherst uniforms are the traditional purple and white with the word “Amherst,” and an “A,” or both.

What is the process for requesting permission to use the new mascot logo?

Any business, other entity, or individual who intends to use the new mascot logo must first enter into a licensing agreement with the college. For more information contact Suzanne Auerbach in the Office of Communications at smauerbach@amherst.edu. The college reserves the discretion to decline any proposed use. Any use of the mascot logo without a licensing agreement is prohibited.