The University of Mississippi, known more commonly as Ole Miss, was founded in 1848, and has been dealing with issues regarding its official school mascot since 2003. Because of the controversy, administration removed the current mascot: southern plantation era, white-haired “Colonel Reb”.
Critics often referred to Colonel Reb as racist and insensitive, so the university felt it was necessary to change it, but until now, the school remained unofficially represented for the past 7 years.
The university decided that a student committee would spearhead the selection process for the new mascot. Eleven initial suggestions were narrowed down to a land shark, a black bear and a muscled male character known as Hotty Toddy (to be named after the college’s spirit chant).
After much debate, and an online poll from students, alumni, season ticket holders and faculty, it was announced on Thursday, October 14, 2010 that Ole Miss’ new official university mascot would be The Rebel Black Bear. The bear was supposedly selected because of the short story “The Bear” written by notable alumni William Faulkner.
There is a strong history of confederate pride at Ole Miss. The nickname, afterall, refers to a slave owner’s wife, but one has to wonder, why would Ole Miss select another controversial mascot that could again be labeled racist, especially with the words “The Rebel” in its official name? Not to mention, the bear is killed at the end of the short story. Aren’t mascots historically supposed to be winners and come out triumphant from battle?
The new bear mascot has three wardrobe changes, so don’t you worry, fashionistas, he will always be dressed appropriately.
What do you think of the change? Are mascots even important enough to college culture to stir up this much discussion to begin with?