The student vote on the potential mascot change will now take place over a four-day period through the Associated Student Body’s online OrgSync poll.
The non-binding vote between the Landshark and Rebel the Black Bear will now wrap up at 7 p.m. Friday, ASB President Dion Kevin III announced in a letter to the Ole Miss community Monday night.
“After a week of stimulating conversation, we noticed that students have taken an intense interest in the possible mascot change. Considering the wide-reaching student input, we have decided to open polling for an entire week,” Kevin wrote in Monday’s letter.
Kevin said he met with ASB executive officers and adviser Valeria Beasley-Ross this past weekend to discuss the wide reaches of this campus vote, and they decided on this new voting schedule. Beasley-Ross, director of the Office of Leadership and Advocacy, declined to comment on the decision to extend the polling period.
“We decided that since it was such a hot issue, we wanted to give students ample opportunity to voice their opinions, so we opened it up to a longer period of time,” Kevin said.
The Landshark option did not appear on Tuesday’s personality ballot because the standard online voting process used for those elections did not allow for the mascot vote’s extended timeline. Kevin said the ASB executives and Ross decided the OrgSync poll would be the best way for students to vote.
“We wanted to do a different polling method, but this was the easiest method is what our ASB adviser told us,” Kevin said.
Since polling opened, some students have had trouble finding exactly where to vote online.
“I consider myself someone who is involved on campus, and I barely have a clue how to use OrgSync,” sophomore ASB Sen. Griffin Neal said. “The tech is not easy to navigate, and it’s not a very frequented website for most students.”
Coco McDonnell, a senior marketing major and chair of the ASB Senate’s committee on external affairs, said the ASB executives announced the extended vote without senators’ input. She said she is not sure why the mascot vote even needed to be extended. Other senators also said they were not included in the decision-making process.
“I was not included in the decision-making process, but I do understand that not all ASB initiatives need necessarily go through Senate,” Neal said. “Dion and the rest of the cabinet were elected to represent the student body, just as we senators were.”
“We had two goals we wanted to accomplish, and that was to gauge more student opinion and to not conflate Landshark votes with personality votes,” Kevin said.
The version of the Landshark poll ASB initially published stated voting would be open until Oct. 3, but Kevin said that was a mistake and the vote will still close at 7 p.m. Friday.
Online, the poll asks, “Would you support the Landshark as the official mascot of the Ole Miss Rebels?” and requires students to indicate their classification. To access the poll, voters need an Ole Miss student login and must create an OrgSync account if they have not registered with the site in the past.
“We’re really trying to gauge as much student opinion as possible, and so we felt like this is the best way to facilitate it,” Kevin said.
He said the extended mascot vote and its removal from the personality elections ballot will ensure a more thorough and accurate voting process.
“We felt that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to put the Landshark on the same ballot as personality elections because we didn’t want that to influence any of their votes, as well. We felt like maybe it wasn’t right,” Kevin said.
In Monday’s letter, Kevin acknowledged recent student requests for an additional mascot to be added to the ballot, and he refuted any rumors surrounding a new candidate’s addition.
“That issue was decided a long time ago. Colonel Rebel was taken off the field and retired in 2003,” Kevin wrote in the Monday letter. “… The university made clear that Colonel Rebel would not return as the mascot. This is still the case.”
The letter goes on to explain that students would receive a link to the mascot vote’s poll in their university emails when voting opens. Otherwise, students can access the vote through ASB’s Facebook page.
Students seem to have mixed feelings about the vote’s extension.
“I think that it’s nice to give students some extra time to make their decisions and to vote,” senior business major Maddy Young said. “I personally love the Landshark, so I think that the extension will ultimately help it get more votes.”
Junior managerial finance major Bryan Turner said he is concerned the extended vote will potentially sway the election results one way or another.
“I don’t see the benefit in extending it because everyone should have already had their mind made up,” Turner said.
Kevin said ASB will announce the vote’s results Friday night.