"The appending of Confederate symbols to the already existing Rebels identity was of course unfortunate and to some extent immature. It was also inaccurate historically, as in 1864 Nevada entered the Union as a free state, which quite obviously was the only way it could gain entry. Dr. Moehring pointed out to me that “Abraham Lincoln pushed to make Nevada a state in 1864 (even though Nevada lacked the 60,000 people required by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787) just to get one more state to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. Nevada was the state that got Lincoln the one additional vote he needed to do it.” Even if one ignores the reality that the historiography of slavery and the Civil War in the 1950s, at least in terms of popular understandings, was closer to the mythical and reconciliatory writings of Thomas Dixon, Jr. than to the later work of modern-era scholars such as Eric Foner, it nonetheless made little sense to dress the nascent Nevada Southern institution in the garb of the Confederacy except to—from an explicitly southern position on the map—stick a metaphorical finger in the eye of the Nevada’s northern concentration of political power. "
The confederate flag symbolized something much different to NSU, compared to that of the south. It was in bad taste, which is why it was removed in the 70s.
The symbolism it played was after the fact as well. Rebels was designed as a Rebellion to UNR and the powers they had over funding and expansion.
Here are some early 60's articles from both sides:
"We should all be thinking about the immediate problem which exists between the Reno Campus and the Nevada Southern Campus. NSU is obviously getting the short end of the deal concerning financial assistance which is so badly needed. Our campus is in dire need of an adequate book store, cafeteria, anddormitories, etc. We must face the fact that if we wait for the minds in Reno to make the decisions and to allocate the money which is needed to handle NSU, we will all be grandparents. This same type of partiality exists not only in relation to the University, but also in allocation of State money for roads, buildings, etc., which favor the Reno area —giving Reno the gravy and Las Vegas the crumbs. Unquestionably the Southern Nevada and Reno areas will eventually be compared to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Clark County is going to outstrip Washoe County in the coming years.The financial benefits from the university to the community cannot be measured. Many towns in the country have grown and prospered, over a period of years, because of their university alone. The university provides a source of revenue for the localmerchants. It also provides for a rise in population which results in an overall betterment of the community. A prosperous and growing university can do nothing but good for the community. NSU seems to be having a difficult time moving ahead as fast as it should."
"Evident of thisdetermination is the moniker they have tacked on the southern regional division—“Nevada Southern University”—although “NSU” is only considered on a par with any of the University’s seven colleges. The latest move toward equality took the form of a 50-50 split on book appropriations. The Reno campus got $125,000 and old “NSU” took in a like amount. If this action is any indication of things to come, then the main campus will be placed on a two-way appropriation dole with its southern fledgling in the future. This means two things: (1) Nevada Southern, even with a 50-50 split, will not be equal to the Reno campus in the foreseeable future, and (2) the University of Nevada will fall behind in its effort to raise itself to a competitive position with other universities. The University of Nevada is on the move in academic circles. It hasPh.D. programs, a library that is on the way up, improved faculty and academic standards, and some branches. It must be remembered that Nevada Southern is a branch—a southern regional division—and nothing more. If Las Vegans continue their pressure for equality, they will succeed only in weakening the University as a whole. The most sensible action on their part would be to finance expansion themselves. The main campus, serving anentire state in all levels of post-secondary education, must not be weakened by the pressure of sectional interests.
The 1982 mascot committee was literally created to find a non-offensive, non-Confederate looking mascot. Those were the main factors in creating the new mascot.
Hey Reb was created and approved by many different leaders and student groups who agreed the committee found a new mascot within its mission purpose.
Hey Reb is a mountain man, pathfinder, discoverer, explorer. Which goes along in theme with the Las Vegas area (Basically founded by mountain men) and the idea of Nevada Southern's Rebel attitude of becoming it's own.
At this point, we're talking about changing a mascot, and possibly the Rebels name simply because some people think he is something he isn't. Potentially millions of dollars to make a few people, who don't care about getting informed, feel better? At what point is it a reach?
What's next Mountain men are racists? Possibly killed Indians in war. Fought for Union against Confederates, but also Mexico?
There will never be a line in the sand, but at some point people have to check their feelings and educate themselves.