October 24, 2016: Mascot Committee Update

In January of 2016, the Board of Trustees issued a statement that Lord Jeffery Amherst would no longer be used in any official capacity by the College. The Board and President Biddy Martin asked the Alumni Executive Committee to convene a larger Mascot Committee to include students, faculty and staff as per the Board’s statement. This Committee was created, and met several times in spring 2016.

The Committee first determined that it was important to move forward on designating a new mascot. A large contingent of students desire a mascot. In the absence of a process for deciding what a new mascot should be, another unofficial mascot will likely emerge, but without the shared input of alumni, students, faculty and staff. The Mascot Committee feels that it is important to proceed with a formal process, as it will be the best way to involve the broader Amherst community in vetting and choosing a new mascot. The Committee designed a Mascot Selection Process to be transparent, inclusive and community-building, and it launched on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016.

More information and timeline details >>>

July 29, 2016: Mascot Committee Update

The Mascot Committee (with representation from alumni, students, faculty, and staff) met several times in the spring of 2016 and has continued its work this summer to develop a process and timeline for the Amherst College community to select a new mascot. The following guiding principles have been endorsed by the Committee and have provided a helpful framework for their approach:

  • Ensure a transparent process and decision-making,
  • Maximize constituent participation and feedback, and
  • Advance community-building, particularly between students and alumni.

To further support the development of a plan, the Mascot Committee consulted with faculty members in Mathematics and Statistics (Nicholas Horton and Tanya Leise); several departments on campus, including Institutional Research, Athletics, Advancement Operations, and College Communications; and other institutions that have completed or are undertaking a process to select a new mascot. Paramount to a successful and participatory process at Amherst will be a close partnership with College Communications and utilizing multiple news sources/exchanges to share information, including this site/landing page, e-News, Amherst Magazine, The Student, alumni class listservs, and social media. 

The Mascot Committee is now finalizing the plan, which will be shared with the Amherst community by early September. In brief: A call for mascot suggestions and nominations will open in early October and run through mid-late November; suggestions will be winnowed (with help from additional stakeholder groups) from December through February; a community-wide vote on five finalist choices will take place in March and April; and a new mascot will be announced in late spring 2017. 

Please stay tuned for more information on this page and via other Amherst new sources in the coming month. Thank you and best wishes from Amherst!

Sincerely,

The Amherst College Mascot Committee:

Alumni Executive Committee members: Annette Sanderson ’82, Chair, Anne-Claire (Ace) Roesch ’08, Vice Chair, Tania de Sousa Dias ’13, Steve Gang ’72, Joe McDonald ’58, P’93, and Tom Sullivan ’78

Association of Amherst Students: Karen Blake ’17, President

Student Traditions Committee members: Harrison Haigood ’18, Samuel Keaser ’17E, Alejandro Nino Quintero ’18, Olivia Pinney ’17, and Siraj Sindhu ’17

Faculty and Staff representation: Robert Hayashi, Associate Professor of American Studies, Donald Faulstick, Director of Athletics, and Michael Kelly, Head of Archives & Special Collections

Membership as of July 2016

April 14, 2016: Amherst Magazine Story

The first job of the new student-alumni mascot committee is to create a process that’s transparent, that maximizes participation and that builds community.


How to Find a Mascot

By Emily Gold Boutilier — April 14, 2016 (as printed in the Spring 2016 issue of Amherst magazine)

How will Amherst choose a new mascot? This spring a committee of students and alumni is beginning to answer that question.

The Mascot Committee held its first meeting on April 1. Its next meetings will be on April 15 and April 29. Most of its 17 members (whose ranks may grow) are drawn from two existing groups—the Student Traditions Committee and the Alumni Executive Committee’s Mascot Task Force. 

“Our job is to create a process that’s transparent and that allows our various constituencies—alumni, students, faculty and staff—to express their opinions,” says Alumni Executive Committee Chair Annette Sanderson ’82, who serves on the new group. “It’s our goal to listen, and to be inclusive.”

A new mascot should be something “we can all rally around,” said the Board of Trustees statement. 

So far, the group has endorsed a set of guiding principles. These state that the decision-making process must ensure transparency, build community, maximize participation and create connections among students and alumni.

The other alumni members are Joe McDonald ’58 (chair), Tania de Sousa Dias ’13, Aimee Carroll Flynn ’99, Steve Gang ’72, Mike Mulligan ’68, Ace Roesch ’08 and Tom Sullivan ’78.

Student members are Brianna Cook ’16, Harrison Haigood ’18, Virginia Hassell ’16, Sam Keaser ’17E, Olivia Pinney ’17, Siraj Sindhu ’17, Micayla Tatum ’16 and Association of Amherst Students President Tomi Williams ’16.

College Archivist Michael Kelly is also a member.

“We don’t want it to be top-down,” says Keaser. “We’re all very committed to the College, to finding a new mascot and a process that works—one that’s democratic and open.”

The committee will propose to President Biddy Martin later this year its recommended process for engaging the community in the choice of a new mascot.

The committee came to be following the January Board of Trustees statement, which noted the importance of convening a group that would involve as many people as possible in finding  “something—something organically associated with Amherst, reflecting our collective history—that we can all rally around.”

November 20 - December 1, 2015: Alumni poll

The Alumni Executive Committee completed a 10-day poll of alumni on December 1, 2015. 

Alumni were asked: How do you feel about Lord Jeffery Amherst as the unofficial mascot of Amherst College?

Pie chart showing 10 percent no opinion or not sure, 38 percent favorably, and 52 percent unfavorably

Favorably
Unfavorably
No opinion/Not sure

5,974 alumni voted. The results are as follows:

Favorably: 2,245 votes, 37.58%
Unfavorably: 3,128 votes, 52.36%
No opinion/Not sure: 601 votes, 10.06%

View demographics of alumni body versus participation in the poll and forum (PDF).

November 20, 2015: Student Poll

The student government conducted a poll of students. The results were released the morning of November 20, 2015. 1,606 students, or 89% of the student body, took part. In response to the question, “Do you think Lord Jeffery Amherst should be removed as our unofficial mascot?,” 83% voted yes, 17% voted no.

November 16, 2015: Faculty Poll

Per President Martin’s November 20, 2015 update, “At the end of their special meeting on Monday, [November 16], faculty decided to take an unofficial straw poll on the question of whether the College should keep or drop its use of the Lord Jeff as the unofficial mascot of the College. As some of you have read in The New York Times and other media outlets, every member of the faculty who attended the meeting voted to stop using the current mascot. Because this was not an official meeting of the faculty, the vote is also unofficial. This was not simply a response to student protests. The faculty at Amherst has been discussing the mascot among themselves for a long time.”