LAS VEGAS (AP) — The struggling student newspaper at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is changing its name from “Rebel Yell” to “The Scarlet & Gray Free Press” in a bid to end criticism that it evokes the Civil War Confederacy, its editor said Wednesday.
Editor-in-chief Bianca Cseke (CHEK-ah) said the change will debut next semester.
Cseke said she and several other staff members thought since Spring 2015 that a newspaper name echoing the Civil War era was inappropriate.
The new name reflects the campus color scheme, and was among several offered for student polling. Cseke said the final choice reflected the paper’s mission.
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“A lot of people liked ‘Rebel Review,'” she said. “But others liked ‘Free Press’ because of the meaning behind it.”
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid on Tuesday praised the name change during a speech on the Senate floor. He said many people felt the old name was disparaging.
“The Civil War ended a long time ago, and we shouldn’t hearken back to the Civil War and the Confederacy,” Reid said. “I applaud The Scarlet & Gray Free Press for doing the right thing.”
The move comes after several months of debate and a year after a campus diversity office report commissioned by university President Len Jessup concluded that neither the campus “Rebels” nickname nor its “Hey Reb!” mascot have ties to the Confederacy.
The nickname dates to the university’s origin in the mid-1950s as an upstart alternative to the University of Nevada, Reno, which was founded in 1874.
For several years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, UNLV highlighted the north-south rivalry with a cartoon wolf mascot called Beauregard — wearing a gray Confederate uniform — that contrasted with the traditional UNR wolf mascot.
UNLV used a trailblazer image for more than a decade before a version of the current mascot emerged in 1997. It features a cartoon face with a prominent chin and dominant white mustache beneath a large wide-brim gray hat.
Reid stepped up his calls for the Nevada University Board of Regents to order a newspaper name change following an allegedly racially motivated mass shooting in June 2015 at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The twice-weekly UNLV campus paper has been fighting for funding to continue to publish in print and online. Its Wednesday edition reports that its $86,000 in university “student life” funding was cut this year to $30,000, and advertising revenues were down.
Last month, the staff launched an internet fundraising drive to keep operating for at least another semester, and Cseke said she’s trying to get business and foundation partnership funding. She’ll still be the editor.
“A lot of people are more concerned about the name change than they are about the funding situation,” Cseke said. “Ultimately, the name doesn’t really matter if we’re not around next semester.”