UNLV removes Hey Reb! statue following student protests
Las Vegas — The University of Nevada, Las Vegas has removed a statue of its “Hey Reb!” mascot from in front of its alumni center following outcry from student groups, including the Native American Student Association.
The bronze statue of a man with a huge mustache and his hands on his waist was in front of the Tam Alumni Center and is expected to be returned to its donors.
“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,” university president Marta Meana said in a statement Tuesday.
The announcement was made in the weeks following the police killing of George Floyd, a black man who died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for what prosecutors say was 8 minutes, 46 seconds — a number that has since become a rallying cry among protesters.
His death prompted protests across the U.S. and around the world against police brutality and racial injustice. In related protests, many Confederate monuments have since been damaged or removed.
The history of the “Rebels” nickname has become an issue in recent years and a petition to abolish the mascot was created Sunday following multiple letters from political science professor Jonathan Bradley, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
“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,” the petition said. “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.”
The school removed the Confederate logos in 1976 but retained the Rebels nickname. In 1983, UNLV introduced the Hey Reb! mascot. Hey Reb! was intended to be a “mountain man” with a rebellious spirit, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
Despite having adopted Confederate mascots for about a decade, the university commissioned a report in 2015 that found no connection between the Rebels name and the Confederacy.