The University of Nevada-Las Vegas announced on Tuesday that they are retiring the Hey Reb! mascot. However, the school is still keeping its Rebels nickname. The decision to retire the mascot comes after UNLV removed a statue of Hey Reb! last spring due to its Confederate roots.
Hey Reb! was originally created in 1982 by Las Vegas artist Mike Miller and was an ode to western trailblazers of the 1800s. The school has updated the mascot on three different occasions prior to the decision to retire it.
According to UNLV's website, Hey Reb! has been labeled with quite a bit of criticism in recent years and many people employed by the school worked on a solution that keep's the mascot's history intact:
"Multiple university administrations wrestled with finding a solution representative of varying perspectives while also acknowledging the campus' rich diversity. Hey Reb's retirement in 2021 followed the removal of a statue from the university campus in June 2020 - through a mutual decision with the donor - and the subsequent refrain from its use in the traditional areas of student recruitment and athletics throughout the fall of 2020."
Prior to the statue of Hey Reb! being removed, a petition started on Change.org asked for the school's mascot to be changed. Nearly 7,000 people signed the petition for the removal.
David J. Morris, who created the petition, wrote that the mascot has "racist" roots and points back to Confederate mythology.
"The 'Rebel' is racist and is rooted in a Confederate mythology which has no place on our campus," he noted on the Change.org page. "The mascot, originally named 'Beauregard' after the Confederate general who fired the first shots of the Civil War, presents a public image that runs counter to our core values and UNLV's mission to become the leading multicultural university in the United States.
"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."
In the 1950s, UNLV was part of the University of Nevada in Reno. Students created "Beauregard," who was a cartoon wolf that wore a Confederate uniform. "Beauregard" was created to "rebel against Nevada-Reno and its wolf-pack mascot in the North."
The school did get rid of "Beauregard" in 1976 following a student senate vote. That's when Miller created the Hey Reb! It had been the mascot since its inception in 1982.
At this time, UNLV has no plans to create a new mascot.