Opinion: Debating the Landshark mascot change

Posted on Oct 9 2017 - 8:01am by Jonathan Lovelady and Andrew Wildman

Landshark ‘symbolizes unity’

The Landshark hand gesture is a charismatic sign that, when thrown up, brings unity and acknowledgment of our school pride to all of us. It is not covered in “legendary controversy” but is a prideful symbol that symbolizes unity and doesn’t offend anyone.

Nevertheless, some have an issue with the new mascot, saying it is “unrealistic,” but so was the Black Bear, considering there are only about 150 of those bears in existence in our state.

As a university, we must acknowledge the turbulent history of our institution and understand that any previous mascots do not and will not ever reflect our university’s path to creating a more diverse environment and upholding our standard of academic achievement.

The tradition of “Fins Up” is not something just recently thought of out of nowhere: It all goes back to the 2008 football season. After a plethora of losses year after year, a winning season captivated fans and players alike. Linebacker Tony Fein threw up the first “Fins Up,” and it caught on across demographics.

You can continue to wear your “tradition,” because at the end of the day, that’s your freedom of expression and none of my business, but students decided by an 81 percent margin in a student government poll that the Landshark just makes sense as our mascot. With lots of conversation and a multi-day window open to vote, our campus was effectively clear on what we, as a student body, wanted.

Regardless of this evidence, tradition continues to come up in debate to justify stances on previous mascots, but I concur that our institution and its demographics were entirely different when those mascots represented us. I’m a firm believer of “to each his own,” but we need a mascot that will unify us instead of continue to divide us.

Through it all, the Landshark continues to captivate our school and its plethora of fans. Nothing makes more sense than having something unique, not something created out of legend or a misjudged attempt to undermine the status quo, as our mascot.

Our mascot should stand for all of us so that when we travel the country (and the world), we can shout “Hotty Toddy” to one another and throw up the hand sign with it.

Jonathan Lovelady is a junior economics major from Los Angeles.


‘Here we go again’

I want to start by saying I am not opposed to the idea of the Landshark as the Ole Miss mascot. The Landshark is something that is now ingrained in our football culture. It’s only appropriate that this is the next mascot for our school.

With that being said, I am firmly opposed to changing our mascot to the Landshark. Now, you may be asking, “Why is this? I thought you liked it.” But my opinion has absolutely nothing to do with the Landshark and everything to do with Ole Miss’ administration and the Associated Student Body.

Colonel Reb was taken off the sidelines of Ole Miss football games in 2003. This was just a precursor to the change in 2010, when Ole Miss adopted the Black Bear as the official mascot. Now, here we are, seven years later, and the administration is changing mascots yet again.

The administration just seems wishy-washy. When Ole Miss adopted the Black Bear, we still said, “I am an Ole Miss Rebel.” The field still says “Rebels” in the end zones. The Ole Miss administration didn’t back up its mascot then, and it isn’t going to do it now.

Since the Black Bear didn’t take, the administration was searching for some saving grace to make it look good after the backlash it received from students and alumni. Enter the Landshark referendum.

I am not trying to suggest that the referendum was inspired by the administration and given to the ASB. I think it was just an idea that the ASB executives had, and the administration saw it as its chance to correct its mistake.

That being said, the Ole Miss ASB does not accurately represent the opinions of students. If you read The Daily Mississippian, you may have seen the article reporting that 81 percent of students voted “yes” for the Landshark. However, another number that many looked over was that only around 4,100 students voted.

That’s a lot of students, but it’s nowhere near a majority or even a third of students enrolled across the university’s campuses, which is 24,250 students, according to the Ole Miss website. That’s a lot more than 4,100. Now, whether this low turnout was because of the ease of student voting or political apathy, who’s to say?

The more pressing issue is that the Ole Miss student government is more concerned with pushing its own agenda than accurately representing the wants of the student body as a whole. Yes, many had their voices heard in the referendum, but many did not.

So, will the Landshark stand the test of time as the new Ole Miss mascot? Probably not. Will we see a new mascot in the next 10 years? I’d say we will see another mascot change in five years after this one doesn’t take.

What is it that we will continue to say to represent pride in our school? “I am an Ole Miss Rebel.”

Andrew Wildman is a sophomore integrated marketing communications from Laurel.