While grappling with financial instability, Whitman College is facing criticism for creating a program to make tiny clothes for the ducks in Lakum Duckum.
In a statement released by the College, President Kathy Murray stated that the ducks are “mascots of the Whitman community who embody the values of the college and deserve appropriate garments.” The program focuses on producing a variety of outfits for the ducks, including hats, formalwear and Whitman branded attire.
Detractors of the plan have called it a “frivolous waste of money.” Many students have argued that the money spent on clothes for ducks should be used to help preserve environmental studies, classics and fine arts courses. The college responded that making the duck clothes will be a fitting replacement for costume and design in the theatre department, and thus will simply refocus the aim of fine arts at Whitman.
Other students have said that the duck outfits are just a distraction from the school’s real issues with one calling it “bread and circuses, not including the actual bread they feed the ducks.”
“They care more about the ducks than us,” said another student. “Feeding them, heating their ponds, giving them tiny hats and raincoats.”
Professors were also critical of the plan, especially due to the reduced access to sabbaticals the college has proposed. One anonymous professor said, “If the ducks are so great, why don’t they teach a class? Apparently, they’ll be dressed for the occasion.”
In response the college has reaffirmed its support for the plan, saying that well-dressed ducks will attract new students by truly making Whitman “a place like no other”. Whitman dismissed claims that the plan distracts from real issues with a Zoom fashion show for the ducks, replacing a previously scheduled student comment period on the college’s financial plans.