Today final day for input on Ole Miss mascot

Today is the final chance for Ole Miss stakeholders to provide feedback about “Rebel Mojo” or “Rebel Blues Musician.”
Members of the University of Mississippi community have been voting since June 28 on 11 semifinalists vying to become the university’s new on-field mascot. That online poll, located at mascot.olemiss.edu, closes today at 5 p.m.
Voting is open to Ole Miss students, faculty, staff, Alumni Association members and season ticket holders. A student-run mascot selection committee will analyze the polling results and unveil a handful of finalists for another round of voting in late August or early September.
Although figures weren’t available through the holiday weekend, over 10,000 people had voted as of Thursday evening, said Margaret Ann Morgan, co-chairman of that committee. That included more than 4,000 students and more than 3,000 alumni.
“We’ve had an outstanding response,” said Morgan, a sophomore journalism major from McComb.
University officials removed Colonel Rebel as the school’s on-field mascot in 2003, saying the plantation-owner caricature was hurtful to the university’s image.
Ole Miss has not had an on-field mascot since then, but in February, students voted to take part in a process to select a successor.
The 11 semifinalists were culled from about 1,000 ideas the committee received on its website and at forums held throughout the state.
The current round of voting allows participants to rank each mascot on a four-point scale and to provide feedback about what they would change. Log-ins are required to ensure that the votes are coming only from university stakeholders.
“From the beginning, we have been very open to what the Ole Miss community has been telling us,” Morgan said. “This is not a committee’s mascot; it is the entire Ole Miss family’s mascot.
“Because we’re doing it in poll format rather than as a vote, they’re able to give us that much more feedback. They’re able to develop this mascot in the way they want it to look and act and be.”
Morgan said the five finalists will likely not be announced until the next round of voting begins, sometime shortly after the start of the new school year. Artist renderings will also be made available at that time.
In choosing the finalist, the committee will pay close attention to differences of opinion among stakeholder groups. For instance, Morgan said she has seen a lot of student support for the Rebel Land Shark, but alumni have been more lukewarm on the character that is based on a recent football tradition that celebrates a quarterback sack.
While the mascot’s most public role will be at football games, its use will be much broader.
“It will be used at volleyball, track, baseball and birthday parties,” Morgan said. “It will be the university’s ambassador.”

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal