Ole Miss Stirs Up Mascot Controversy Again. Admits “Rebel the Black Bear” a failure. Wants to change mascot to loser of 2010 campus vote
OXFORD, Miss. –
After spending millions of dollars since 2003 to convince students, alumni, and fans that the overwhelming and longstanding choice for the school mascot – Colonel Reb – is “deplorable”, leadership at the University of Mississippi finally admitted their despised 2010 choice for athletic mascot – “Rebel the Black Bear” – is a failure. After conspiring with the Chancellor and Athletic Director in private for the last several weeks it was revealed today by the ASB, the student government at Ole Miss, that it will host another campus vote to attempt to choose “Landshark” to replace the bear. In a 2010 research project of Ole Miss students, faculty, staff, alumni and season ticket holders just 62% percent supported the Rebel Black Bear and only 56% supported “Landshark”.
However, those numbers were dwarfed by people who rejected all of the choices available to them. That 2010 vote was held after the University refused to recognize an earlier vote where 94% of students at Ole Miss voted to keep Colonel Reb as the school mascot. Even a recent 2016 School of Journalism research project of almost 4000 students revealed that 86% of Ole Miss students want Colonel Reb as their mascot, with 72% of students proclaiming they "love" Colonel Reb.
Colonel Reb Foundation Student Chairman Wess Helton said, “Let me get this straight - the Ole Miss administration wants to change their current failed mascot to one that got even LESS support in their sham 2010 mascot election? On behalf of the thousands of student members at Ole Miss, we agree that the Black Bear is an embarrassment and a failure. But using another closed process and a fake election to force their previously failed choice on students won’t solve anything. The Colonel Reb Foundation calls for the ASB Senate to give us our true mascot choice in this election – Colonel Reb – or add “None of the Above” as an option for Ole Miss students.”
Since 2003 when the University Administration kicked Colonel Reb off the field but hypocritically continued to profit from his sales in bookstores, they have hired a parade of professional mascot consultants from New York and elsewhere that have consistently stated that if the Ole Miss fan base did not buy into the mascot forced upon them it would be a failure. The Black Bear mascot has to have a security detail in public due to the violent reactions of fans who have spit on, thrown things at, and even assaulted the costumed character. Meanwhile, the student led Colonel Reb Foundation has had the support of millions of fans since 2003 appearing in the Grove, at athletic events both home and away, parades, and even weddings – all with private financial support of students, fans, and alumni. In previous years the Colonel Reb mascot was always a student at Ole Miss and part of the Ole Miss Cheerleaders, each of whom received a partial scholarship.
Commenting on the proposed mascot change to Landshark Helton commented, “To change our mascot to a symbol that when used on the football field has resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to our own team for taunting is almost laughable to me. It’s not even original. There is already a liberal arts school in Vermont that uses Landshark as their official mascot.”
Helton further stated, “In 2010 Senior Associate Athletics Director for Marketing and Communications Michael Thompson stated that the Black Bear would ‘complement the experience at all athletics events and create a lasting connection’. That nearly yearlong process sought input from all members of the Ole Miss community complete with focus groups, town halls held across the state, and a vote of stakeholders that included students, alumni, and season ticket holders. The results showed overwhelming rejection for all of the limited choices available. While this self-made disaster should have been avoided in 2010, I don’t understand why University officials think a 2017 Russian style election with a previously rejected choice forced by the liberal elites in the Administration and co-opted by their cronies in the ASB will solve anything. Until University Administrators accept that the fans, students, and alumni of Ole Miss love their friendly cartoon character Colonel Reb they will continue to face the ire of the Ole Miss community. Is this the ‘lasting connection’ that they are talking about?”
The Colonel Reb Foundation is a non-profit organization formed by students at Ole Miss in 2003 dedicated to preserving the 80 year tradition of having Colonel Reb as the mascot and logo of the University of Mississippi.