Today, University of Mississippi students wrap up voting for what could potentially change the Ole Miss mascot from the Black Bear named Rebel to the popularized Landshark.
The Associated Student Body initiated the Landshark referendum after several students expressed interest in a mascot better representative of the University.
In a letter announcing the referendum on Sept. 18, ASB President Dion Kevin III said the Landshark may have gotten its origin in football, but has taken on a deeper meaning since its first introduction by Ole Miss defensive linebacker Tony Fein in 2008.
“[The Landshark] has since expanded to symbolize Ole Miss’ fighting spirit and athletic prowess,” Kevin said.
Ole Miss alumnus Lindsay Miller believes the Landshark mascot would be a more cohesive image for the University.
“The Black Bear, it was fun while it lasted, but it didn’t make much sense,” she said. “I think with the Landshark, everyone naturally caught on to that movement, so Fins Up.”
Ole Miss student Johnny Yang agreed that a mascot change would help the University’s branding, but also commend the football team.
“I think it would be a smart decision,” Yang said. “The football team makes a lot of money for the University, and that is where it originated from.”
However, Oxford resident and freelance writer Steve Vassallo disagreed, claiming that replacing the mascot would only be another attempt to alter Ole Miss traditions.
“[The] vote to incorporate the Landshark as the official mascot of the University is very misguided,” Vassallo said. “To begin with, the Landshark only represents half of the football team. Who is going to represent the offense, or what about basketball or baseball?”
The Black Bear (who is said to represent William Faulkner’s short story “The Bear”) hardly gained traction after the 2010 referendum to replace Colonel Reb, but Vassallo said the Landshark should not be an only alternative, claiming “one bad decision does not warrant a second.”
While Vassallo and possibly others would have liked Colonel Reb as an option on the ballot this time around, the ASB Code of Ethics prohibits them from doing so. It is currently unconstitutional under the ASB code to pass a referendum through the senate that calls for the return of Colonel Reb in any way.
“One only has to visit the Grove on any football Saturday at home to observe that the Colonel has never left the building, let alone the Grove,” Vassallo said. “He won’t be returning officially, but unofficially, he is as visible as ever.”
Polls close at 7 p.m. tonight. (Ole Miss students can click here to vote.)
According to previous reports, if the four-day vote finds favor with the Landshark, the ASB will advocate for the mascot change to the University and Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter.
Look for an update after results are announced.
By Randall Haley. She can be reached by emailing email@example.com. </em.HERE!