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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)
The University of Mississippi is reopening the thorny issue of mascots, more than a decade after the controversial decision to drop Colonel Reb.
The Associated Student Body (ASB), the university's student government, announced Monday that a campus-wide vote will consider changing the Black Bear mascot adopted after Colonel Reb's demise to something considered more catchy: a Landshark.
Here's how ASB Dion Kevin III put it in a statement announcing the vote:
"The Landshark as we know it today has its origins in football, but has since expanded to symbolize Ole Miss's fight spirit and athletic prowess," Kevin said. "It was started by Ole Miss defensive linebacker and military veteran Tony Fein in 2008 during our historic upset of the Tim Tebow-led Florida Gators."
The statement goes on to encourage students to vote for the Landshark as the school's official on-field mascot during a referendum scheduled for next Tuesday, Sept. 26.
Not everybody is captivated by the idea.
"Let me get this straight," Colonel Reb Foundation Student Chairman Wess Helton said in a release. "The Ole Miss administration wants to change their current failed mascot to one that got even LESS support in their sham 2010 mascot election?"
The Foudation supports bringing back Colonel Reb.
University representatives could not immediately be reached for comment on the referendum.
The decision to drop the use of Colonel Reb was part of efforts begun by former Chancellor Robert Khayat to help the Oxford-based university shed imagery associated with the Old South, considered offensive by many. Khayat also banned flying Confederate flags at the on-campus football stadium.
After dropping official use of Colonel Reb in 2003, the university held a 2010 referendum in which the black bear was chosen as the mascot, a nod to William Faulkner's short story The Bear.
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