Monday, Nov. 30, 2015 | 10:43 a.m.
UNLV President Len Jessup today announced his support for the university’s Rebels nickname and mascot, despite recent protests by students who assert they are symbols of racism.
In a statement released today, Jessup said he supported both the nickname and mascot, Hey Reb!, as valuable parts of the university’s identity.
“We must keep the term Rebels as our nickname,” Jessup said in the statement.
“It was coined as our young institution was fighting to establish its own identity, and it has come to represent the very independence and spirit that embodies both UNLV and Southern Nevada,” he said.
“I believe we should keep Hey Reb!, but we should evaluate the need to freshen the mascot’s costume and related marketing images, which has been done approximately every 10 years since its inception,” Jessup said.
The announcement comes on the heels of a report by the university’s diversity office, which found “overwhelming support for use of the term Rebels as UNLV’s mascot” after a year of gathering input from the campus community. It also denied any link between the Confederacy and the school’s symbols.
The debate over UNLV’s nickname and mascot reached new heights earlier this month, when a large group of students staged a protest on campus.
The protest started as a display of solidarity with students protesting racism at the University of Missouri. It evolved into a tense showdown with university administration over diversity issues and the school’s mascot, which some students felt resembled a Confederate soldier.
The UNLV mascot has been revised multiple times. In the 1970s, a group of black athletes succeeded in convincing university leaders to abandon the old mascot, a Confederate-clothed wolf name Beauregard, and in the 1980s the face of UNLV became Hey Reb!, which was designed to resemble a mountain man of the 1800s.