UNLV removes Confederate-themed Hey Reb! statue sparking outrage, new mascot petition gets 4,000 signatures
Donated to the university in 2007, the Hey Reb! statue was placed in front of the Richard Tam Alumni Center until June 6 after which it was removed
George Floyd's tragic death sparked massive protests all across the United States. With more celebrities and people raising their voices against systemic racism, brands and universities are taking a stand towards a more inclusive environment. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, also took a major step and reports say that a statue of UNLV’s "Rebel" mascot has been removed from campus.
Donated to the university in 2007, the Hey Reb! statue was placed in front of the Richard Tam Alumni Center until June 6 after which it was removed. "On my evening walk at UNLV. Looks like a Hey Reb statue is being removed. Stay tuned," a tweet from journalist Michael Lyle said along with a set of photos. In an official statement to its students, UNLV President Marta Meana said, "In recent conversations with the donor, we mutually agreed it was best to remove the statue and return it," adding, "Over the past few months, I have had discussions with multiple individuals and stakeholder groups from campus and the community on how best the university can move forward given recent events throughout our nation. That includes the future of our mascot."
The university will have more to share after "the listening tour is complete," Meana concluded. The action prompted several students to come out on social media and speak about it. "I think @unlv removing the Hey Reb statue from the front of the alumni building is a small step towards actually showing that they care about representing how diverse the campus is. I’m looking forward to seeing what else they do to show students that they care," one tweet read and another said, "Hey Nevada, you just lost one of your statues at UNLV. These Democrats keep taking away your state pride and history. Keep voting blue and you will lose more than your mascots. #NevadaVoteRed."
However, not everyone was happy about it. The move has started a huge debate over the Confederate flag and other symbols of slavery and black oppression. "UNLV being one of the most diverse universities & changing our racist mascot? big d**k energy >>>," one posted and another said, "Man these f**king cancel culture kids don’t know anything about Hey Reb! Or UNLV. This isn't Robert E Lee." Another said, "It’s about time for everyone to stop bending over for all this s**t! Pathetic no dignity move for UNLV to take that statue down. If you feel the statue was wrong then your ability to educate students is worthless."
One tweet said, "I know! The donor taking down a statue because a ton of students don't want a confederate inspired mascot?!?! Who would’ve thought," and another wrote, "He is a mountain man. Nothing to do with the confederate. Educate yourself before you comment." Another added, "Why? The history of the mascot and the became have been painstakingly documented, even by your African-American Studies professors. It's well documented Hey Reb is a Mtn Man designed to replace the admittedly dumb association with Confederate symbols."
The "Rebel" mascot was used by UNLV since 1969. Originally a wolf wearing a Confederate Army cap and uniform as the school mascot, it was changed to the current human mascot in 1983. It was named "Beauregard" after the Confederate general who ordered the first shots of the Civil War. Earlier in 2015, former Sen. Harry Reid had said Nevada higher education officials should look at changing UNLV's mascot after a massacre at a black church. Right when the statue was removed, a petition was started for a new UNLV mascot with almost 4,000 signatures.
"Having a mascot that is inextricably connected to a failed regime whose single aim was to preserve the institution of slavery is an embarrassment to our campus and to our community," the petition said.
It further read, "In 2017, our Congresswoman and 30-year UNLV Professor Dina Titus (D-NV) argued on KNPR that the university should consider retiring the mascot. It's 2020 now, and time to turn the page on the 'Lost Cause' of the Confederacy in Nevada. We, the undersigned, demand that UNLV President Marta Meana hold a campus-wide vote as soon as possible to select a new mascot that better represents our community and our school."