I received something in my e-mail this morning and am still distressed over it.
It seems my alma mater, Ole Miss, hasn’t had a mascot on its athletic fields since 2003. That’s going on a decade, people!
We used to be the Rebels. Our mascot was a white-haired, suited-up Southern gentleman called Colonel Reb. Our main fight songs were “Dixie” and “Rebel March.” Our flag was the flag of the Confederacy.
So much has changed since I was a student.
And it’s not for the better.
Now I realize in this politically correct culture that certain things had to go by the wayside, but everything?
If I — raised in the North — could rally behind Southern traditions, could embrace them whole-heartedly, could (in short time) fall in love with this university, then anybody could.
Those who can’t should choose another school — period — rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.
A similar thing happened at the University of Illinois a few years back when a very adamant minority convinced the administration that Chief Illiniwek, their student-portrayed Sioux mascot, was “offensive” and “racist.”
I didn’t think so. Still don’t.
But they banned the Chief, leaving the Illini without a mascot.
Just like us Rebels.
Recently, I received an online survey asking me to weigh in on the list of proposed mascots someone had come up with to represent Ole Miss. Talk about a joke! Who in their right mind could rally behind a horse or a lion or two goofy thing-a-ma-bobs named “Hotty” and “Toddy,” for cryin’ out loud??
It infuriates me that this great university has fallen to such depths. No wonder enrollment is down. No wonder students don’t feel any camaraderie there. No wonder alumni are frustrated and frantically searching for ways to inject life into an institution they love.
Some students at Ole Miss have even begun a campaign to select Admiral Ackbar as mascot. He’s got lasers, they say. True, but he’s also this gosh-awful ugly catfish-looking creature from Star Wars.
You can’t blame the kids for trying, but why mess with a good thing?
I don’t believe students choose a university based on its mascot. Nor do I believe they refuse to attend a university based on its mascot. Just take a look at some of the silly mascots on college football fields today — mules at West Point, blue devils at Duke, Stanford’s tree, Syracuse’s orange, the Ohio State buckeye.
Still, there’s something to be said for Tradition. Something to be gained by binding generation after generation with the same songs, cheers, mascots, and symbols.
Something to be mourned when traditions die.
Those who seek to abolish all traces of what Ole Miss stands for need to be stopped in their tracks.
And the only way I can think of to stop them is by hitting them where it hurts — their wallets.
So the next time that perky student calls to ask for your donation, politely tell them ‘No, not until today’s Ole Miss returns to the glory that was Ole Miss.’
HOTTY TODDY!!! GO REBELS!!