In the past year, UNLV decided to retire their beloved mascot, Hey Reb! In recent years, the mascot began to draw criticism with his design, identifying confederate elements in the design.
Over the years, university officials made multiple changes to the mascot to make him more fitting and representative of such a diverse student body, according to UNLV. Hey Reb!’s retirement followed the removal of his statue in June 2020.
Even though a previous UNLV mascot was based on the confederate South, the idea behind “Rebels” for the university name is rooted more closely to the time during the inception of the university. According to the UNLV website, “Rebel” was referring to the nonconforming attitude of the younger generation in the 1950’s, who rejected traditional American values at the time.
Though the decision was meant to be more welcoming to a diverse population, not all students seem to hold the sentiment of getting rid of the beloved mascot.
In a poll conducted on the Scarlet and Gray’s Instagram, 55% of participants said the removal wasn’t necessary. One student who voted that it wasn’t necessary said that UNLV should focus on more important problems instead of the mascot.
Multiple other students have shared the sentiment that an important part of UNLV tradition has been taken for no reason. The mascot had been a source of luck to some during finals, and for others it was a point of school spirit.
The university currently has no plans on what the replacement will be, and it is looking like this will be a five year plan. However, tentative ideas have surfaced and students seem to feel strongly about the process of selecting someone new.
One student who feels that the change is needed emphasized that the replacement needs to be broad enough to represent the diverse student body, adding that the decision should involve the entire student body.
The motivation behind changing UNLV’s mascot might’ve been a step in the right direction in creating an all-encompassing and welcoming environment, but even among students it is controversial.
Hey Reb!’s legacy is something that will not be forgotten, a legacy rooted in UNLV traditions. However, with the right direction, UNLV will be able to change our outdated mascot into something that truly defines the rebel spirit.