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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)
The University of Mississippi is putting some distance between itself and a student-led initiative to replace the Black Bear with a Landshark as the official mascot.
Ole Miss spokesman Ryan Whittington says the vote would not be binding, and Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter would still have options.
"Actions taken by the Associated Student Body are advisory to the chancellor," Whittington said by email Tuesday.
In a statement Monday evening, Whittington did not say whether the school has a preferred outcome.
"This referendum is a student-led initiative being conducted through an Associated Student Body process," Whittington said. "While we will not speculate on the outcome of their process, we value the important role that students play as an active voice in the life of our campus community. We are always interested in the viewpoints of our students."
Dion Kevin III, student body president, announced Monday that a referendum scheduled for next Tuesday will give students the opportunity to vote in favor of replacing the Black Bear mascot selected in 2010 with the Landshark, popularized by the hand-to-helmet gesture of Ole Miss linebacker Tony Fein during a 2008 upset win over the Tim Tebow-led Florida Gators.
"On September 26th, we will all have the chance to leave a legacy of unity and excitement in a referendum vote in this year's Fall Election," Kevin said.
Ole Miss students in a 2010 referendum selected the Black Bear mascot, a nod to William Faulkner's short story The Bear, to replace the familiar Colonel Reb mascot. Dropping Colonel Reb, along with banning Confederate flags from the on-campus stadium, was part of efforts begun by former Chancellor Robert Khayat to shed ties with the controversial Old South imagery.
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