Years after it traded Colonel Reb for a bear, the University of Mississippi is talking about getting a new mascot.
It appears students and alumni aren’t too happy with the current mascot.
The school’s athletic nickname remains the Rebels, but Ole Miss retired Colonel Reb from the sidelines in 2003, ditching other Old South symbols, including Confederate battle flags and the anthem “Dixie.”
The current mascot is a black bear.
On Monday, Associated Student Body president Dion Kevin III announced Monday that students will vote next week on changing from a black bear to the “Landshark.”
“It had about seven years already on the plate,” said Kevin. “It hasn’t really inspired students or fans.”
“It’s kind of boring,” said freshman Austin Brooks. “We came in being the Ole Miss Rebels with Colonel Reb and then we transitioned to the black bear, but we’re still called the Rebels. It’s just a generally confusing idea.
The bear was chosen in a three-way vote of students in 2010, with the Landshark as the runner-up.
“This is just another example of the university imposing what they want and not allowing students to have their voice heard,” said Wess Helton.
Helton is the student chairman of the Colonel Reb Foundation. He wants to see Colonel Reb put on the upcoming referendum.
“I have a petition going around,” he said. “The Landshark lost against the Black Bear, who doesn’t have any support. I don’t think the loser of the election should be given a chance. I don’t think either of them are good options.
Helton says he plans to bring the petitions to the Associated Student Body board next week.
Despite the criticism, students Local 24 spoke to seem to be in favor of the Landshark.
“It started during the Florida game,” said Victoria Adams. “Tony Fein, he ran across the field and put the fins-up sign.”
Feign was a former Ole Miss linebacker. His hand symbol has since caught on at sporting events.
Adams says she’s in favor of the Landshark. “A mascot should be the embodiment of what’s going on at the game. It’s not just about the athletes. I think it’s important to have a mascot that’s includes and doesn’t just represent one person but everyone.”
Kevin says adopting it would “leave a legacy of unity and excitement.”
The University of Mississippi issued this statement Tuesday:
“This referendum is a student-led initiative being conducted through an Associated Student Body (ASB) process. While we will not speculate on the outcome of their process, we value the important role that students play as an active voice in the life of our campus community. We are always interested in the viewpoints of our students.”
The vote will take place on September 26th.
“For the time being we still have Rebel and he still a black bear,” said Kevin. “This is just another step in the process to ensuring this is actually what the students and fans and the University wants.”