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UMass students give mixed reviews to new logo, seal

UMass Amherst has rolled out a a new university seal and brand mark that school officials say "expands the university’s visual identity system."

“We are grateful to so many members of the campus community for their participation in the process of developing the new seal and mark,” John Kennedy, a UMass vice chancellor, said in a statement. “The result is a compelling visual expression of the campus that reflects our history, tradition and values.”

But the brand mark, a maroon block letter "M," isn't winning any popularity contests among students.

On campus Monday, graduate student Keegan Dalal said he heard about the change, announced last week, but he hadn't seen it yet. So Dalal did a quick look online.

"That's the new logo? The M?" Dalal said. "I always thought the old logo looked a bit unprofessional. But I don't think the "M" has any sort of character. It looks like it could be a red [letter for] Michigan."

UMass Amherst senior Meghan Wood agreed about the Michigan connection. So do all her friends, she said, adding she feels bad for incoming students who might want a bumper sticker.

"I wouldn't buy it if I couldn't put it on my car," Wood said. "I feel like it would look weird, like it would just be a random 'M.' People won't know who we are — it doesn't represent UMass Amherst."

The school's new seal, which Wood approved of, features the spire of well-known Old Chapel on campus. UMass Amherst hasn't had a seal since 2011, when it stopped using the image of a Native American.

“As we advance as a university, it is important to do so with keeping in mind diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as the troubling history of the state of Massachusetts and its relationship with the Indigenous populations that inhabited the state," Student Government Association Vice President Meher Gandhi said in the school's press release. "We’re pleased to see a seal that truly represents UMass and encompasses an iconic building on campus.”

The chapel, built in 1885, was in disrepair and closed for years. It reopened in 2017 after a $21 million renovation.

Full disclosure: The license for NEPM’s main radio signal is held by UMass Amherst. The newsroom operates independently.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."
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