Amherst College officially walks away from unofficial ‘Lord Jeff’ mascot

‘Lord Jeff’ refers to Lord Jeffery Amherst, who wrote about a plan to give smallpox-laden blankets to Native Americans more than 250 years ago.

A student with a T-shirt that references the controversy over Amherst College's Lord Jeff mascot, in Amherst, Mass., Oct. 24, 2015.
A student with a T-shirt that references the controversy over Amherst College's Lord Jeff mascot, in Amherst, Mass., Oct. 24, 2015. –NYT

Amherst College’s board of trustees has voted to do away with “Lord Jeff,’’ the school’s unofficial and controversial mascot, according to a statement released by the school on Tuesday.

Lord Jeffery Amherst, for whom the college town is named, was an English general during the French-Indian War who supported “the use of smallpox-infested blankets as a weapon of war against Native Americans,’’ according to the statement.

“Amherst College finds itself in a position where a mascot—which, when you think about it, has only one real job, which is to unify—is driving people apart because of what it symbolizes to many in our community,’’ the board of trustees wrote.

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The school-owned Lord Jeffery Inn, which describes itself as the “destination of choice’’ for returning alumni, will be renamed, according to the statement.

In November, members of Amherst’s student body protested and demanded the administration remove the mascot and associated imagery. A poll of students taken late last year revealed widespread support for the removal of “Lord Jeff.’’

Amherst plans to launch discussions about adopting an official mascot, which the school has never had.

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