[Editors’ Note: In the May 3 edition of the Collegian, former editors-in-chief Maya Kaufman ’17 and Victoria Ungvarsky ’17 suggested, among other things, that Kenyon “change the mascot” from the Lords and Ladies. They felt the current mascots both reinforce the gender binary and present Kenyon as an elitist institution.]
The editors of the Collegian suggest that we “Change the mascot.”
Lordship is a widespread form of social and political organization in pre-modern Europe. It is essentially hierarchical and not infrequently exploitative. These components of lordship make it unlikely that anyone will seriously propose that we re-introduce it as part of our political and social order. These facts about lordship may be sufficiently disagreeable that the Collegian’s readers will want to see the titles “Lord” and “Lady” consigned to ignominy or oblivion.
Both in practice and in theory, lordship was also defined by beneficent features centered on the notion that powerful people had manifold responsibilities for serving the communities in which they lived. These responsibilities included the administration of justice, protection of vulnerable populations, stewardship of the natural environment and the patronage of institutions devoted to the common good like churches, hospitals and schools.
The values that informed these practices are not “antiquated.” Without the vision and generosity of the College’s earliest supporters (including Lord Kenyon, Lord Gambier and Lady Rosse), it is unlikely that any of us would be here to engage in debates about the merits of changing the mascot or about anything else.
The study of history can be both unsettling and inspiring.
Jeff Bowman, Associate Provost and Professor of History