Students campaign for moose mascot over 'anti-Native' Lord Jeffs

  • Amherst students are pushing to change the college’s mascot to the moose after the animal wandered onto campus last spring.
  • Several students have already been pushing to change the current mascot—the Lord Jeffs—over Lord Jeffrey Amherst’s killing of Native Americans.

“We didn’t choose the moose, the moose chose us,” say students at a top liberal arts school in Massachusetts.

Amherst College students have rehashed a movement to change the college’s official mascot to the Moose in order to honor the time the animal wandered onto campus last spring.

"Changing the mascot loses this connection. They were Lord Jeffs. We are Lord Jeffs."   

Students at Amherst have been anxious to change the name of the current mascot—the Lord Jeffs, named for founder of Amherst, Mass., Lord Jeffrey Amherst—for several years. Amherst was a prominent general during Pontiac’s Rebellion, and students say he is guilty of genocide for allegedly ordering a subordinate to practice biological warfare with smallpox-infested blankets. Students also point out that he had nothing to do with the school’s actual founding.

But since the animal wandered onto campus, moose mania has ensued. From moose t-shirts to moose tracks ice cream at commencement, students, faculty and the administration are pushing for the change.

However, a recent article in the school’s newspaper, the Amherst Student, challenges the switch.

“The mascot Lord Jeffs provides a common ground for all of us with past and future generations of Amherst students,” Michael Johnson wrote. “Changing the mascot loses this connection. They were Lord Jeffs. We are Lord Jeffs.”

Other Amherst students have noted that the NESCAC, the athletic conference that Amherst belongs to, is already filled with a medley of animal mascots, including the Bowdoin Polar Bears, the Trinity Bantams, and the Williams Purple Cows.

As of now, Amherst’s administration has taken no official stance on the change, but many students are hoping President Biddy Martin to endorse the idea.

Students, however, are not waiting for Martin’s approval and have taken action. Posters, t-shirts, ice sculptures, and social media accounts have been created to promote the moose. At a recent game against rival Williams College, a student dressed up as a moose; the moose mascot was also seen at the Jeff’s homecoming game.

Just after Thanksgiving break, someone snuck a moose statue into the library. According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, library staff found the moose with a simple note taped to it reading, “I choose what I choose, and I choose Frost. Here I range freely, I move as the spirit moves. I am a moose, I am not a statement, I am who I am—I abide. Abide with me.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @y_mdbailey

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