U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s comments suggesting the Board of Regents re-examine UNLV’s famous mascot, Hey Reb!, is generating reaction throughout the Las Vegas valley.
“I believe that the Board of Regents should take that up and take a look at it. It’s up to the Board of Regents, and I think they should take a look at it,” he said.
The comments come in the wake of the recent shootings in Charleston, South Carolina and subsequent uproar over the Confederate flag.
Ask around UNLV’s campus, and you will find Hey Reb! has a distinctive look.
“Everybody likes mustaches,” one UNLV student said.
Many say he’s a cool mascot.
“He’s just like a rebel that goes against the system I guess, which is a good thing,” another student said.
UNLV student Darryl Reese says there is a comparison with Confederate rebels, but he says Hey Reb! isn’t racist.
“Maybe like University of Mississippi, Ole Miss, that whole thing is not good, but this one’s okay,” he said.
Until the 1970’s, UNLV’s mascot wasn’t okay. The original mascot was Beauregard, a Confederate wolf meant to make fun of the Wolf Pack mascot of University of Nevada Reno.
University Regent Michael Wixom says that’s when an important change happened.
“The Rebel mascot did have some Confederate paraphernalia, and some African-American athletes objected in the 1970’s,” he said. “The university then and the Board of Regents then did a change with the mascot and did away with all of that.”
Donald Miller’s father helped bring about that change. Miller’s father created Hey Reb! His father passed away in October. Donald says he watched when his UNLV Hall of Fame father designed the mascot.
“He was looking at painting a character like the mountain men, the pioneers that explored Nevada,” Donald said.
His father’s paintings of those same mountain men and mountain scenery cover Donald’s living room wall.
His message to Senator Reid: Hey Reb! is not affiliated with the confederacy.
“Let dad rest. He did a good job. He donated to the university. We’re all proud of it. Many of us are proud of it. The whole city has been proud of it. Leave it alone,” he said.
Wixom says the Board of Regents is unlikely to take up the issue. He says he hasn’t received a complaint about the mascot in his ten years on the board.