Michael Sorge - SUNY Purchase

ANALYSIS

There’s a growing movement afoot at Amherst College to replace the 195-year-old school’s longtime mascot – Lord Jeffery Amherst – with a moose.

What may seem to outsiders as some sort of satirical joke is being taken quite seriously by many on the Amherst campus. A small, private institution enrolling 1,785 students and tucked away within rural Massachusetts, it takes its title as a “liberal arts” college quite literally and seriously.

The clamor began oddly when a moose, whose origins remain unknown, wandered onto the school last May, parading the grounds and catching the attention of the quad’s granola crunchers.

“Most of us are dissatisfied with our current mascot, Lord Jeffery Amherst, but as far as I know no one’s come up with a sufficiently popular replacement,” bemoaned a disgruntled Amherstian on Facebook last May. “Today, a fantastic potential new mascot wandered up the hill and onto theMoose quad: the moose! The moose is a noble, strong animal. It’s fun. It’s got antlers. It could totally take Lord Jeff in a fight. What’s not to like? … Reject Lord Jeff! Accept the Moose! Who’s with me?”

It was the call to arms the school’s pacifists had been waiting for.

Born in England in 1717, Jeffery Amherst hailed from a middle-class family and joined the military, proving to be an effective soldier who rose through the ranks and was eventually sent to America during the French and Indian War.

Known for his savvy with logistics, he basically led the effort to successfully kick the French out of North America; thus we have New England today. When next faced with battling Indians, he suggested smallpox-laden blankets on natives, a military tactic that remains the unforgivable sin.

Far before the moose sighting, workshops and hand wringing over Lord Jeffery ensued, and it’s within this context that the moose movement grows today, as documented by “The Moose: A New Mascot for Amherst College” Facebook page, complete with the tagline: “Out with the old, in with the moose.”

Someone in a moose costume made an appearance at homecoming in November. Then a moose sculpture was spotted in Frost Library. Come Christmas time, a painting of a moose donning a cap and gown found its way into the campus chapel. In January, moose fliers were plastered along school hallways.AmherstMoose The tipping point came in late January, when a moose mascot design competition was launched. The deadline to enter was March 1.

“Amherst College did not have an official mascot during the nineteenth century,” explains the school’s website. “The evolution of ‘Lord Jeff’ as the mascot for the school was a gradual process that began in the early decades of the twentieth century.”

That tradition is defended by many. A slim majority of 1,706 voters, or 51 percent, favored keeping Lord Jeff as mascot in an online poll conducted by the Amherst Student newspaper. An op-ed in the Student in defense of Lord Jeff by student Michael Johnson argued that while Jeffery Amherst treated Native Americans as enemies, that’s what they were to Amherst at that time.

“Figures from history must be treated within the context of their time and circumstances,” he wrote. “… Weapons of mass destruction were used by both sides in both World Wars, but we must recognize and understand that the generals in these wars were operating in a situation that had no morally correct solution. … If the mascot must be changed because it is offensive to the Native American community for us to be called the Lord Jeffs, then the name of the college must be changed as well if we are to have any semblance of ideological consistency. Why stop at the mascot?”

“When I think of a Lord Jeff, I don’t think of Lord Jeffery Amherst. I think of excellence, in the humanities, science, music, theater, art and athletics,” Johnson continued. “… The mascot Lord Jeffs provides a common ground for all of us with past and future generations of Amherst students. Changing the mascot loses this connection. They were Lord Jeffs. We are Lord Jeffs.”

Indeed, the Amherst Student has been the choice conduit for the wide variety of opinions on the topic.

A letter to the editor by alumnus David Temin in late January argued “by enabling communities of fans, students, alumni and administrators to suppress these histories, racist mascots embolden institutional racism and colonialism and give tacit shelter to the rampant ignorance of and vitriol often directed towards Native American communities in the present.”

The newspaper weighed in a week later with a Feb. 4 editorial: “Moose-scot: A Call to Arms.”

“At this point, it’s hard to defend keeping the Lord Jeff as our mascot,” it declared. “Lord Jeffery Amherst advocated genocide against Native Americans. By celebrating him as our mascot, we tacitly condone both the man and his actions. Not only does this conflict with the values of any modern-day liberal arts institution, our designation as the Jeffs is a cruel irony in the face of increasing pushes for more diversity and representation from Native American students.”

Amherst skirted the issue directly in a prepared statement for reporters who have asked where the school stands on the issue.

A college spokeswoman told The College Fix in an email: “Students have begun exploring the various traditions, old and new, at the college, including the mascot. It’s a meaningful conversation and we’re pleased our students are leading it.”

College Fix reporter Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGES: Facebook screenshots

Petition demands ‘public retraction’ of prof’s view that people have ‘right to choose’ abortion

Following pressure on his Christian college from a pro-life group, a professor has apparently recanted the muddled views on abortion he articulated in a campus forum.

That’s not good enough for Created Equal, which started a petition campaign against Indiana Wesleyan University demanding that the school “not tolerate pro-abortion professors.”

As The College Fix previously reported, IWU professor Greg Fiebig called himself “equally pro-choice and pro-life” in the “Life vs. Choice” forum in November, which provoked Created Equal’s social-media campaign against him.

Fiebig said he had “cognitive dissonance” on abortion, calling himself personally pro-life but unwilling to impose that view on those without the same moral underpinnings and beliefs.

Fiebig followed up with a letter to the editor of The Sojourn, the campus newspaper, sharing that he and his wife considered an abortion during a troubled pregnancy. He said free will means “people still have the right to choose” abortion even if it’s immoral.

The clamor led IWU President David Wright to publish a statement last month saying the school is “firmly opposed to abortion,” without acknowledging Created Equal’s pressure.

Citing a “faculty member” he didn’t name, Wright said there was “confusion” about the school’s stance, which comes from the Wesleyan Church’s doctrinal statements against abortion.

IWU faculty must sign a statement every year “indicating their agreement with the doctrines” of the denomination, though they are “encouraged to explore all relevant perspectives on the issue under discussion,” Wright said.

The “faculty member whose comments are at the heart of the current confusion” has clarified to the administration that “he believes wholeheartedly in the sanctity of human life and is in agreement with the position of the Wesleyan Church and the university,” Wright said.

Neither Fiebig nor Wright responded to The Fix’s request for comment.

Professor justifies abortion through ‘abuse of Scripture’

Wright’s statement didn’t satisfy Created Equal, which said on its petition page that the president “offered no evidence to change the perception that Dr. Fiebig supports legal abortion.” The petition demands “a public retraction” of Fiebig’s support for legal abortion.

The group also wrote a public letter to Wright, saying that Fiebig’s statements on abortion at the forum – posted on YouTube – and his letter in The Sojourn make it hard to believe he is in line with Wesleyan Church teaching.

“Dr. Fiebig’s abuse of Scripture is apparent” – he cited the book of Genesis to defend legal abortion – and he conflated “one’s free moral agency” with “a legal right” to abortion, Created Equal told Wright.

Wright also didn’t address that Fiebig presumed to speak for the Wesleyan Church in his Sojourn letter, saying the denomination is just as “conflicted” about abortion because it acknowledges humans have the God-given “ability to choose between right and wrong.”

“Which is it?” Created Equal asked Wright. “Is Indiana Wesleyan University’s position in line with the codified view of the Wesleyan Church? Or is your institution’s position on abortion to be defined by Dr. Fiebig’s teaching that men and women have the ‘right to choose’?”

Created Equal did not respond to The Fix’s request for comment.

The group is aiming for 1,000 signatures on the Fiebig petition by Jan. 16, and plans to hand-deliver it to Wright. As of Sunday night, it had 235 signatures.

Created Equal’s stated mission is working to “end injustice,” specifically the killing of the unborn, which the group calls “age discrimination.” It helps organize pro-life student outreach on campus, using graphic images of aborted fetuses.

In its year-end summary of 2014 accomplishments, Created Equal takes some credit for falling abortion rates in Ohio and Florida, “the two states in which we have been focusing much of our outreach over the years.”

Its work was recently featured by WND, formerly WorldNetDaily, in an article about violent attacks and vandalism against pro-life activists.

College Fix reporter Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Facebook

After Republican candidates across the nation swept the midterm elections and took back control of the U.S. Senate, many suggested Democrats’ defeat came as a result of American’s disapproval of President Obama’s job performance.

But that’s not exactly the case, suggest professors in interviews with The College Fix.

Voter turnout, poor campaigning by Democrats, mainstream Republican candidates who ran strong campaigns and other factors played a strong role in the election results, they say.

History shows low voter turnout favors Democrats, and Donald Greenberg, a political science professor at Fairfield University, points out turnout was abysmal. 2014map

“The turnout for the election was under 40 percent, the lowest turnout since 1942,” he said in an email to The College Fix.

While many have used the turnout component to excuse or ameliorate voter disapproval of President Obama, Professor Greenberg has a different take.

“The terrible campaign run by Democrats gave voters no reason to vote for them,” he said.

Some political pundits have agreed in some way with that sentiment, and a few Democrats have suggested running away from President Obama may have actually made their job of keeping control of the Senate more difficult.

In another theory, The New York Times ran an article two days after the election saying that the Republican victory can in large part be attributed to the fact that extreme conservatives who have said controversial things were kept from running this time around, making GOP candidates stronger in the general election.

Miami University Professor Bryan Marshall agreed in a way, saying in an email to The College Fix that the GOP, as a whole, ran “a group of top tier candidates and many proved to be very disciplined campaigns.”

Professor Marshall cautioned however that there are no simple answers to the midterm election results although “some will want to paint that picture.”

Some professors suggested it was a matter of odds.

“Most political scientists predicted it,” government Professor Stephen Medvic said in a post-election review panel at Franklin & Marshall College. “Since 1934, the sitting president’s party has only gained seats twice in a mid-term election.”

Midterm elections tend to draw older less liberal crowds to the polls, which does have an intrinsic advantage to the Republican Party. But many non-political analysts noted that these demographics can not alone be the central reason for the drubbing of Democrats in nationwide.

For example, Republicans were markedly improved in the area of single women, normally a Democratic bastion.

The ‘War on Women’ message fell flat,” said Western Kentucky University political science professor Joel Turner to his campus newspaper.

In fact, there seems to be no clear consensus, and what one takes away from the election does seem to hem along party lines, with Democrats seeing the Republicans running a savvy campaign and Republicans seeing a unanimous rejection of President Obama.

College Fix reporter Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

ANALYSIS

In recent elections, millennials have participated in droves to the advantage of Democrats and President Barack Obama, and control of the Senate may indeed turn on whether or not Democrats can corral young people to the polls Tuesday.

But according to a recent Harvard University poll, only 26 percent of Americans age 18 to 29 say they will “definitely vote,” indicating significant disinterest in the less popular midterm elections.

That same poll found that 51 percent of millennials who say they will “definitely be voting” on Tuesday prefer a Republican-run Congress, with only 47 percent favoring Democrat control.

It seems young voters – who historically tend to vote Democrat – are disillusioned with their preferred political party. So they may sit this one out.

“It’s all rigged, Obama didn’t do what he said he would but the Republicans are no good either. Neither look after the middle class, why bother?” Carl Ackley, a music student and senior at SUNY Purchase, told The College Fix.

Ashley Spillane, who leads “Rock the Vote,” a popular activist group that visits college campuses in an effort to get the youth to engage in the political process, suggested young people are tired of being falsely pandered to.

“If people were paying attention to young people in an authentic way, actually caring about those issues, you’d see a much higher turnout rate,” she told CBS news.

Recent headlines declare “Millenial voters feel abandoned by Democrats,” and “Millennial voters a new worry for Dems.”

Some campus newspapers echo similar sentiments.

“It would be one thing if Democrats truly disagreed with the president’s core policies like minimum wage increases, student loan reform, and continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act—but they don’t,” an editorial in Harvard University’s Crimson student newspaper declared. “Missing a photo op while privately endorsing all the president’s proposals is just the kind the shallow and superficial politicking that has turned Americans against Democratic leadership.”

The Republican National Committee is even confident millennials will turn out for them, saying their new campus captain program has engaged young people and educated them about how Obama has fumbled the economic recovery and other missteps.

“We’re making sure students know that the GOP stands up for free market innovators, like Uber, for better education through school choice and for lower health care costs,” said Elliott Echols, the RNC National Youth Director, in an opinion column. “Gone are the days of liberal demagoguery standing unchallenged on campuses.”

Some Democrats openly acknowledge they are locked in a losing battle in trying to sway younger voters to head to the polls.

Jim Manley, former spokesperson for Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) grimly told The Hill that for millennials, Obama’s mantra of hope and change has “hit a brick wall.”

College Fix reporter Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Young Americans for Liberty

New York campus health official: ‘Yes, we are concerned’

As many watch with worry at the spread of the deadly Ebola virus on American shores – and a new confirmed case of Ebola has popped up in New York City – colleges in New York and nationwide have taken a variety of precautionary steps to prepare for a possible case on their campuses.

At the State University of New York-Purchase College, medical officials told The College Fix that they will monitor students who may have traveled to West Africa, but would not confirm if any students have actually traveled to the affected regions where Ebola has ravaged villages and towns.

Medical staff at Purchase College expressed assurances that the campus is undergoing efforts to ensure greater safety and that there is a low chance of the deadly African virus reaching the school, but there are no guarantees, especially since the virus originally wasn’t thought to even start a mini-outbreak in the United States, they said.

“Everything can change on a dime … we are constantly evolving our protocols, trying to make them better, but yes, we are concerned,” said Dr. Nancy Reuben, the medical director of health services at Purchase College.

Dr. Reuben said that the small staff at Purchase Health Services has ordered advanced personal protective gear to prevent the virus from infecting any of the nurses or staff in the case a suspected Ebola patient, and all arrivals to the health center will be screened for recent travel history.

“We are also having an emergency response team meeting with all departments… to coordinate what to do if someone does bring it to campus,” she added.

Despite broad statements to assure the public that steps are being taken to insure public health safety in New York schools, students – while not panicking – are also not entirely convinced of their safety.

“[Y]eah, me and my friends talk about it, it is kinda scary,” Moriah Ormsby, a senior at SUNY Purchase, told The College Fix.

The World Health Organization on Oct. 12 released disturbing statistics including that there can soon be more than 10,000 cases of infections a week and perhaps more pressing—that the mortality rate of the outbreak is 70 percent, that Ebola kills 7 out of 10 people who contract the virus.

With that, some colleges have suspended their study abroad programs to West African countries. Others have updated their infections disease protocols, purchased hazmat suits and launched campus education efforts. And most campus officials have asked students returning from Ebola-affected countries to check in at the health office to fill out a questionnaire and take home thermometers, another CDC-recommended protocol.

With the sudden exposure on American soil, hospitals and airports around the country are on high alert, as are colleges, where many interactions in tight-knit environments such as dorms and classrooms occur.

Many college officials do not see this threat as a joke. When a San Diego college student claimed she had flu-like symptoms and might have ridden in the same plane with a confirmed Ebola patient, the school went into lockdown and quarantined students before determining the claim was unsubstantiated.

Several of the safety precautions seen on campus are the result of the Center for Disease Control instructing universities recently to “identify students, faculty, and staff who have been in countries where Ebola outbreaks are occurring within the past 21 days” and “conduct a risk assessment with each identified person to determine his or her level of risk exposure.”

“During the time that you are monitoring your health, if you have no symptoms, you can continue your normal activities, including work and school,” the CDC also advised students. “If you get symptoms of Ebola, it is important to stay separated from other people and to call your doctor right away.”

UC Berkeley officials stated that an Ebola case in California is highly likely, and that its University Health Services workers have undergone extensive training on how to respond to those presenting Ebola-like symptoms. But the university also shelved plans to launch a study abroad program in Sierra Leone.

In Texas, where to Americans are recovering from Ebola, university officials have also asked those who have traveled to West African countries recently to contact the Student Health Center.

The University of Oregon also cancelled its global health and development study abroad program in Ghana. Harvard University has launched new travel restrictions. Navarro College will not accept new applications from students residing in Africa.

The global health crisis of the Ebola epidemic had been brewing for months before American efforts, primarily led by the Centers for Disease Control, intensified recently.

Ebola, named after an African river, spread virulently through the primary three countries hit hardest; Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. The American public’s attention however only reached its current height after a man flying from Liberia was diagnosed with Ebola in a Dallas hospital and then accidentally released—potentially exposing others. The man, Thomas Duncan, died. The new case in New York City has also reignited fears.

There are serious concerns among some students across the country that colleges may be caught unprepared if a case of Ebola does hit their campus.

A student group at the University of Virginia is calling on the university to take concrete steps to protect the campus, with one student saying the campus “as a whole has not had a response,” according to the Cavalier Daily student newspaper.

College Fix reporter Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

After months of promising a “balanced approach” to reducing the national deficit, President Barack Obama is backing off of his own compromise proposal, and he now refuses to cut one cent from the government’s bloated budget.

Mr. Obama and liberal Democrats in the Senate and House have coalesced to form a stubborn obstacle to even small reductions in spending on the nation’s many social welfare programs.

In fact what was once a concession by Democrats, that tax increases on the wealthy would have to be combined with spending, has now largely turned into a one sided “negotiation” with Democrats now saying that any spending curtailments must come after tax rates go up on Americans making more than $250,000 a year.

Democrats, emboldened by positive results in the presidential and congressional elections, have given up even the appearance of supporting efforts to cut spending.

The nation is in serious financial trouble. But instead of the sober debates in Congress that one would expect, we see nothing but dueling press conferences featuring Mr. Obama returning to the campaign trail to stoke class resentment and drum up support for higher taxes.

According to the GOP House Speaker John Boehner “no substantive progress has been made” in the meetings (taking place mostly in secret) regarding the looming fiscal cliff.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was reported to have laughed at a new Obama administration proposal, delivered by Secretary Treasurer Timothy Geithner, which included 50 billion dollars more spending for stimulus in an effort to “cut” the deficit. However, the idea of raising taxes has become more popular with some Republicans too.

In the wake of the GOP’s election loss, some Republicans believe that the national electorate will look at their party with scorn if it is seen as protecting the rich at the expense of the middle class. GOP Senator Tom Cole is typical of those members who think that, while conservatives may be philosophically correct in wanting to protect job creators, they are losing the PR war with Mr. Obama, and that the better of two bad options is to make a deal that allows for increased taxes.

While there is discontent and infighting among the GOP between moderates and those who are strict fiscal conservatives, the Democrats have solidified. Talks of increased revenue, and of the rich paying their “fair share” are abundant. Never mind that the wealthy already pay a greater share of their income than the poor or middle class. The top 20% earn 50.8% of the income but pay 67.9% of the taxes. Meanwhile, the bottom 40% of U.S. earners make 14.9% of the income but pay only 4.1% of the total income tax.

Most earners in the bottom 40% actually pay no income taxes at all, but instead get money back from the government in the form of refundable tax credits. How then do the Democrats keep a straight face when they claim that the rich aren’t paying their “fair share?”

And what about our out-of-control spending? The only discussion regarding the sacrosanct programs of Medicare and Social Security from Democrats is when Illinois Senator Richard Durbin opined, “The Social Security is a separate thing. It does not add a penny to the debt.”

The president and his Democratic colleagues in Congress have broken their promise of a “balanced approach” to solving the fiscal crisis. They are not interested in cutting our out of control spending in the least, despite a national debt that totals more than $16 trillion.

If the U.S. falls over the “fiscal cliff”—it will be because the president and his fellow Democrats have broken their promises to the American people.

Fix contributor Michael Sorge is a student at SUNY Purchase.

Click here to Like The College Fix on Facebook.