OXFORD, MS (WMC-TV) - University of Mississippi students voted Tuesday to start the process of finding a successor to the school's abandoned Colonel Reb mascot.
Colonel Reb was cast off as the on-field mascot in 2003 as the school continued its move away from Old South symbolism. Since then, the teams have been without an on-field mascot. Colonel Rebel has remained an unofficial school mascot seen on school merchandise.
The vote on Tuesday allows students to begin the process to find a successor to Colonel Reb, an old Southern gent with a cane and floppy hat.
Of the 18,000 students eligible to vote, only about 3,400 University of Mississippi students took part in the election.
Seventy-Four percent of those students voted "yes" to begin the student-led process to find a new mascot.
"It would be nice to have something that represents the school, so you can say this is what I was a part of," Linita McEwen said after voting "yes".
Other students said they don't want to see any mascot on the field if it can't be Colonel Reb. They fear his presence may fade away completely if there is a new mascot to replace him.
"He has been a part of Ole Miss in some shape since the 1930's," Hannah Loy, the student leader of the Col. Reb Foundation said.
Students on both sides of the vote said the mascot decision was not about race.
"This isn't about race, it's about school spirit. It's a generational issue, it's time for older generations to allow younger ones to decide what things mean for us," Loy said.
"I don't feel like this has been put in the context of a racial issue more of a school spirit issue," Atair Rogers, President of the Associated Student Body said.
The Associated Student Body will now begin the process to find a new mascot. Some ideas gaining ground include Admiral Ackbar, who lead the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars. Other more serious ideas include the Land Sharks, Bears, or Cardinals.