Letter: UMass ‘seal of approval’

Kevin Hollerbach argues it is time for UMass to eliminate its original University seal completely


Judith Gibson-Okunieff

(Collegian File Photo)

By Letter to the Editor

As a recent alumnus, I visited the Campus Center store last weekend to refill my closet full of UMass swag. Currently sitting on my desk at work in Washington, D.C. is a mug with the iconic UMass seal, encircling the politically charged image of an Algonquian Native American. I bought this mug not because of the particular image in the center, but because seals of universities simply look pretty bada**. As you can imagine, I was heavily disappointed to only find mugs with the much more boring “UMass Amherst” logo in the Campus Center.

I prefer to avoid the arguments surrounding whether or not this image is politically correct in our modern world. However, I will argue that the logo needs to be replaced. For those that don’t know, the seal of the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a mirror image of the Massachusetts Coat of Arms, also present on the Massachusetts flag and many other icons, badges and logos of the Commonwealth. Some may say this coat of arms is history and therefore must not be altered (the seal was originally adopted in 1775, and re-affirmed by Governor John Hancock in 1780).

However, while I’ll admit that the central figure of the Algonquian on the coat of arms has not changed since its original adoption in 1775, the seal was drastically changed in 1900 to a more minimalist and modern version.

Just as the coat of arms was updated over 100 ago, it can be changed again. Even without a statewide change, UMass should not feel indebted to using this outdated and controversial image. My suggestion: University Relations can hold a student competition for a new seal, which we will not feel embarrassed to print on coffee mugs sold in the Campus Center store. I am happy to offer my redesigned seal as the first submission, featuring the Massachusetts Minuteman, arguably the most prideful symbol of Massachusetts and the mascot of the University. #FreeTheSeal