The University of Nevada, Las Vegas is removing its statue of mascot Hey Reb! after receiving complaints from student groups.
Tuesday on Twitter, UNLV President Marta Meana released a statement saying the college has removed the structure — which has greeted visitors outside UNLV’s Tam Alumni Center since 2007 — and is considering replacing its mascot altogether.
(1/3)Message via @UNLV_President on the statue of Hey Reb!: "I wanted to let you know that the Hey Reb! statue in front of the Tam Alumni Center was taken down this evening. In recent conversations with the donor we mutually agreed it was best to remove the statue and return it."— UNLV (@unlv) June 17, 2020
(2/3) "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."— UNLV (@unlv) June 17, 2020
(3/3) "That includes the future of our mascot. The frequency of those conversations has increased in recent weeks, and I will have more to share with campus once the listening tour is complete."— UNLV (@unlv) June 17, 2020
Since at least last year, the school’s Native American Association has called for the statue’s removal because it represents violence and the murder of Native Americans. (Per ESPN, Mike Miller, the designer of Hey Reb!, attributed his design to the Western trailblazers of the 1800s who built communities in uncharted Nevada territory.)
On Wednesday, NAACP Las Vegas Chapter President Roxann McCoy applauded the statue’s removal, saying, “It was overdue.”
Prior to Hey Reb!, UNLV’s mascot was Beauregard the Wolf — named after Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, who fought in the Civil War for the enslavement of Black people. Beauregard was designed in response to the northern wolf mascot of rival school the University of Nevada, Reno.
UNLV admits on its own website that “while it was a decision based in rivalry and fun, the choice of a Confederate-themed mascot was nonetheless an unfortunate one.”
In the early ’70s, students voted to remove Beauregard but to keep their nickname as the “Rebels.”
Though UNLV has attempted to distance itself and its mascot from the Confederacy, a Change.org petition was created in June, demanding a new school mascot.
“UNLV’s current mascot, the ‘Rebel’ is racist and is rooted in a Confederate mythology which has no place on our campus,” wrote David J. Morris, who is listed as the creator of the petition. “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.”
As of this writing, the page has over 4,000 signatures.