Education

Amherst College could dethrone ‘Lord Jeff,’ the school’s unofficial mascot

Lord Jeffery Amherst is said to have been the mastermind behind the plan to give blankets containing the smallpox virus to Native Americans.

A student with a T-shirt that references the controversy over Amherst College's Lord Jeff mascot. Nathaniel Brooks/NYT

The dynasty of Lord Jeff, the unofficial colonial mascot of Amherst College, might end this week depending the outcome of a vote by the college’s board of trustees during their meetings Thursday and Friday.

Caroline Hanna, a spokeswoman for the college, said the board will be discussing the Lord Jeff matter as part of their meeting agenda and will make an announcement to campus at some point afterward.

Lord Jeff, who wears a red coat and powdered wig, has been the unofficial school symbol since a student wrote a song about him in 1906 for the glee club. Amherst doesn’t have an official mascot.

“Oh, Lord Jeffery Amherst was a soldier of the King, and he came from across the sea,’’ read part of the lyrics. “To the Frenchman and the Indians, he didn’t do a thing, In the wilds of this wild country.’’

But his relationship with Native Americans is what makes him so controversial. Amherst, who commanded the British forces in North America during the French and Indian War, is said to have been the mastermind behind the plan to give blankets containing the smallpox virus to Native Americans.

In November, students at Amherst were among hundreds nationwide who issued lists of demands to their university administrators to force them to address racism on campus. Removing Lord Jeff and all imagery associated with him was one of the demands.

In a poll of students taken in November, 83 percent said Lord Jeff should be removed as the mascot.

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