Go! Fight! Hamsters! Amherst College closes in on new mascot

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) Students and alumni at Amherst College could soon be rooting for the Hamsters.

Hamsters was among the most popular nicknames submitted to a committee put together to come up with a new athletic mascot for the Massachusetts school. Trustees dropped Lord Jeffs last year in part because 18th century British Gen. Jeffery Amherst suggested giving smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans.

The committee has winnowed a list of nearly 600 unique suggestions to 30 semifinalists.

Many people noted that Hamster is an anagram for Amherst. Other semifinalists include Moose, Aces, Dinosaurs, Irradients, Fighting Poets and Mammoths.

Among the nicknames that didn't make the cut were Biddys and Purple Martins, nods to current college President Carolyn ''Biddy'' Martin.

The committee hopes to have five finalists for a community-wide vote in March.

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