Though he’s presented as a Western frontiersman, UNLV mascot Hey Reb is under fire for the second time this year for perceived Confederate ties.
Sen. Harry Reid urged the Board of Regents in June to “take a look” at the controversial mascot following a racially motivated shooting at a black church in South Carolina, and last week UNLV students, in solidarity with the University of Missouri and Yale, staged anti-racist protests, calling for bolstered ethnic-studies programming and Hey Reb’s retirement.
Within the next two weeks, UNLV’s head of diversity, Rainier Spencer, will release a report on Hey Reb’s history, possibly including recommendations on how to proceed. A deadline wasn’t given for the decision, though a name change would require approval by the Board of Regents.
UNLV has a history of controversial mascots. In 1955, the university’s precursor, CSNS, voted to adopt the Rebel name and a Confederate wolf mascot, Beauregard. In 1971, students voted to keep the Rebel, but replaced Beauregard with a Revolutionary War soldier. And in 1983, “independent mountainman” Hey Reb debuted, undergoing a makeover in 1997 to appear even more pioneer-like, though that perception hasn’t stuck.
“We are one of the most diverse campuses in the nation,” a student shouted during the Nov. 17 protest, as reported by the Las Vegas Sun. “Why do we still have that f*cking racist mascot?!”