UNLV President Len Jessup says keep Rebel nickname; research concludes no roots in Confederacy

UNLV President Len Jessup says keep Rebel nickname; research concludes no roots in Confederacy

U.S. News & World Report
2015-11-30

Michelle Rindels, Politics Reporter
The Associated Press


FILE – In this Feb. 1, 2014, file photo, UNLV mascot Hey Reb warms up the crowd before an NCAA college basketball game in Las Vegas. UNLV President Len Jessup says the school needs to keep “Rebels” as its nickname after new research concluded it is not a reference to the Confederacy. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken, File)

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) ÔÇö UNLV is keeping its “Rebels” nickname and “Hey Reb!” mascot in spite of critics who said they should be changed because the imagery harkens to the Confederacy.

Citing newly released historical research that concluded the moniker was not intended as a reference to the Confederacy, the president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas issued a statement Monday saying the school must keep the name and mascot. He said “Rebels” expresses UNLV’s entrepreneurial spirit, and he noted overwhelming support for the term.

“It was coined as our young institution was fighting to establish its own identity, and it has come to represent the very independence and spirit that embodies both UNLV and Southern Nevada,” President Len Jessup wrote in a message to the UNLV community. “It is clear that ‘Rebels’ is central to our shared identity and represents the broadest definition of the term.”…

…UNLV Chief Diversity Officer Rainier Spencer finalized a 60-page research paper on the topic earlier this month, concluding the Rebel name emerged from southern Nevada students’ frustrations in the 1950s that the Legislature wasn’t investing as much in the south as it was in the University of Nevada, Reno.

“The Rebels nickname is not a Confederate reference, as it predates the first appearance of Confederate symbols, which was April 20, 1955,” wrote Spencer, who is also a vice provost and founder of UNLV’s Afro-American Studies Program. “Nevada Southern students were already known as Rebels before the application of those symbols; indeed, the symbols were applied because those students already had a non-Confederate Rebels identity, and also because of the north-south geography of the state.”…

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