It’s already been heard that the debate surrounding Lord Jeff has injured many on campus — a phenomenon not unsurprising given the harshness of the rhetoric and the complete disregard for logical argument. The debate is leading students to accuse each other of ignorance and arrogance, hate and immaturity.
We can not expect civility when strength of argument is replaced by its loudness. We can only expect pain when we seek to stir hatred rather than compassion. We can only expect vulgarity when students expect to win over others by employing an arsenal of derogatory and personally offensive comments.
In addition, students accusing their classmates of racial prejudice, hate-mongering or anything else does more harm that merely personal harm; it produces a disregard for legitimate arguments and concerns, while chilling constructive debate by creating an atmosphere of fear. If painful space-allocation debate involving the MRC and Women’s Center still lingers in all our collective memory the last thing we ought to know to do to ourselves is to again extrapolate something on campus into a great culture war — a war in which there stands only good and evil, and in which all students are innocently implicated as its soldiers.
Even if debate were to remain cordial, without a positive proposal for a new mascot and a clear institutional direction for the debate, any kind of debate will only continue to ripple and reverberate amongst the student body. This is why this Editorial is a call to the administration to start thinking about churning the gears of debate toward the constructive selection of a new mascot.
Getting students excited about something new will not only dampen the air of negativity, but it will eliminate an anxiety associated with much resistance to dumping the Jeff. Forming a committee to explore new mascot ideas will allow the campus to outline clear goals in a new mascot pick, which in and of itself is a more constructive and useful debate to have.
Even if some acknowledge merits to preserving the Jeff, thinking about what else in addition could represent Amherst in the future will at least broaden the debate with options and outlets that it desperately needs.
Students have borne a great emotional toll in the past year. If all start thinking about the next logical step, parties with a voice in the debate will better be able to respect each other and the cam