When votes were tallied, 2,510 students voted to approve the initiative, and 856 voted "no."
"My goal was primarily to give voice to the students," said Artair Rogers, president of UM's Associated Student Body government. "I am pleased with the results."
The next step is for ASB leaders to decide how to select a Student Mascot Committee, which will develop and propose a new mascot. Rogers said he hopes to present a plan to the ASB Senate and to the chancellor next week.
"We have thought a lot about this, and we will propose that the Student Leadership Advisory Committee, along with two student-athletes from the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, develop criteria for selecting 12 to 15 students through an open application process to serve on the Student Mascot Committee," Rogers said.
"A mascot's role is to unite fans, and school spirit is a student issue," said Sparky Reardon, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students. "I am proud of our student leaders for initiating this effort and allowing all students a chance to have a vote in this process," Reardon said. "The process is as important as the result."
In today's referendum, students voted on whether to endorse a student-led effort to propose a new on-field mascot for the Ole Miss Rebels. The old mascot, Colonel Rebel, was retired from the field in 2003. The university has not had a mascot since.
University officials stated earlier that they would support a student-led effort to develop and propose a new mascot, but that UM's athletics teams would remain the "Ole Miss Rebels," and the school's colors would not change.
"Our students think of themselves as 'Ole Miss Rebels'. They are today's Ole Miss Rebels, and they want a new on-field mascot that represents their spirit and energy," Chancellor Dan Jones said. "They will lead the effort to create a mascot that they think will improve school spirit and the game-day experience for themselves and others."
As students begin the process, they will invite input from other UM constituents, such as alumni, fans and friends.
Read more in Wednesday's NEMS Daily Journal.