Shelia Byrd, NBC Sports, February 23, 2010
University of Mississippi students voted Tuesday for the school to pursue a new mascot to replace Colonel Reb, the goateed Southern gent banished from the sidelines nearly seven years ago as the school continued its move away from symbols of the Old South.
The university’s Associated Student Body released the results of the online election after voting ended at 5 p.m. CST.
“This wasn’t about Colonel Reb at all. This is a new body of students. This vote is about deciding that we need a new personification of what a Rebel is,” said John Kaiser, the Associated Student Body’s deputy attorney general of elections.
Students were asked to vote “yes” or “no” on whether they support “a student-led effort to develop and propose a new ‘on-field’ mascot to represent the Ole Miss Rebels.” A “no” vote meant the school would have remained without a mascot.
The school has more than 18,000 students, but only 3,366 votes were cast. The referendum passed with nearly 75 percent of the vote.
Ole Miss will remain the Rebels, but Colonel Reb won’t be back on the field.
The university has taken other steps in recent years to throw off what many perceive as lingering reminders of a Confederate past. Last year, the band stopped playing the fight song, “From Dixie With Love,” to discourage fans from chanting, “the South will rise again.” In 1997, the school ended the waving of Confederate flags at sporting events.
Loy [Hannah Loy, a senior political science major and a member of the Colonel Reb Foundation] said her generation should be allowed to define issues of race and school spirit.
“I think the older generations need to stop pressing their feelings about race and what happened in the past on those of us who weren’t even alive then,” Loy said.
The Colonel Reb Foundation, a group formed in 2003 when the mascot was dropped, had bought advertisements in the student newspaper in hopes of winning a “no” vote on the proposal.