In the wake of the protests around the world demanding social justice and an end of racism and discrimination, UNLV officials made the decision to remove the Hey Reb! statue from campus on Tuesday due to its Confederate roots.
"In our recent conversations with the donor, we mutually agreed it was best to remove the statue and return it," University president Marta Meana wrote in a letter posted to social media on Tuesday. "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."
A petition was started on Change.org earlier in June asking for UNLV's mascot to be changed. The petition had over 4,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.
David J. Morris, who is listed as the creator of the petition, explained Rebel's "racist" roots on the Change.org page:
"The 'Rebel' is racist and is rooted in a Confederate mythology which has no place on our campus. 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."
As ESPN pointed out, according to UNLV's website the mascot dates back to the 1950s, when UNLV was part of University of Nevada, Reno. The students at the time created "Beauregard," who was a cartoon wolf wearing a Confederate uniform. It was meant to "rebel against Nevada-Reno and its wolf-pack mascot in the North."
UNLV admits in their 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."
Beauregard was banished in 1976 after a student senate vote and six years later local artist Mike Miller created the Hey Reb! mascot concept. Miller said his mascot was inspired by 1800s Western trailblazers who went into unchartered Nevada territory to find resources and build communities.