Top-ranked liberal arts college is dropping a mascot students said was racist

Amherst College Campus Students QuadVia Wikimedia CommonsAmherst College.

Amherst College has announced it is dropping its mascot, Lord Jeffrey Amherst, from official use, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Though “Lord Jeff” was an unofficial mascot for the school, his image was found throughout campus.

On Tuesday, the Amherst board of trustees decided “not to employ this reference in its official communications, its messaging and its symbolism,” according to The Times.

Lord Jeffrey Amherst was a colonial military commander who helped the British win during the French and Indian War, and he’s notorious for reportedly having soldiers distribute smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans.

Amherst College ProtestJudd LiebmanAmherst students protest racism on campus last November.

“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,” he wrote in a 1763 letter.

Amherst students have sought to remove the mascot from use for the past several years. Last fall, when Amherst College became embroiled in protests over racial discrimination on campus, one of the demands released by students related to Lord Jeff.

Students asked for the school’s president, Biddy Martin, to condemn the inherent racism of the mascot and to encourage removal of all memorabilia around campus.

Similar calls to remove so-called racist figures have occurred in many elite schools this past fall. At Yale, there have been calls to rename Calhoun College named for John C. Calhoun, a fervent supporter of slavery.

Harvard law students have called for the removal of the school’s seal, the Royall family’s coat of arms, which has been seen to promote the legacy of slave-owning on Harvard’s campus.

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