John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” Last Monday in an editorial, the staff of The Rebel Yell at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is enduring change in announcing that it would be changing the name of its publication.
“The name of our paper, The Rebel Yell, is racist. I understand that there are people who will disagree with the above statement, but here’s where I’m coming from.” That’s how that editorial starts off, and it leads into the justification of the name change. Later, the staff asks that UNLV students collectively come together to select the new name, which the paper anticipates will be decided by next spring.
We, the staff of The Nevada Sagebrush, fully support the decision of The Rebel Yell staff and ask that our readers do the same. Everything that was said in the editorial was completely true, justified, well-thought-out and considerate. The Rebel Yell name is the name of a Confederate battle war cry, created to strike fear into the hearts of Union soldiers, and with that said deserves to be done away with.
Changing the name now obviously does not make up for the history the negative connotation stems from, but what it does is offer opportunity for future students and faculty members to see that although history cannot be rewritten, it isn’t too late to rebrand. When someone stands up for what is right, sometimes their voice isn’t heard at first. But in this instance The Rebel Yell’s reasons for change are being heard loud and clear, and rightfully so.
The name of the publication has been altered many times and ultimately chose to reinstate the original name, The Rebel Yell, in 1992 despite the racist undertone. Despite the choices in the past, it seems like The Rebel Yell has a clear view that the name is not a defining factor of the publication. It is a good move to make the alteration to the name on behalf of societal progression.
We know that the criticism that the staff is receiving alongside Rene McCullough, the current editor-in-chief, is hefty, but the paper’s staff has handled all of it with respect and pure class. Instead of firing back and stirring the pot, the staff has simply held its ground and has taken all of the comments and news coverage with open minds and a sincere intake of everyone’s opinions.
The reactions that people are having are to be expected. Both university alumni and current students express their concern that the publication name change tarnishes a sense of the university’s history. But there is a fine line between tradition and racism. That’s what people are undermining here. The same type of argument arises regarding the present-day flying of the Confederate flag.
Southerners pose the argument that flying the flag represents southern history while the opposition argues that the flag being flown represents violence and a time of oppression. Despite the so-called “history” of the flag, the Confederate flag has pervasively insidious suggestions. The flag was raised in protest when the first African-American students were admitted to Ole Miss in 1962 and was a signature staple assumed by white supremacists time and time again. As much as advocates want to attribute the flag flying to a desire to preserve history, it is ignorant to reject the violent connotations associated with the flag. The same idea can be contributed to the publication name Rebel Yell. A desire to preserve history is no excuse to condone racism.
UNLV alumni seem to be more opinionated about the name change, and after reading comments online, they aren’t too thrilled. Some of the comments insinuate that the staff of The Rebel Yell are roaring liberals seeking to do away with years of tradition and that they have a lack of respect for veterans of the Civil War. It is only right that people stand up for their alma mater, but it is also right to do the right thing. This isn’t a matter of liberalism or not respecting American veterans; it’s about standing up for what is right.
Just because we are millennials does not mean we don’t have an understanding of our state or our country. We know we are battle born, because Nevada became a state during the Civil War. Despite our origin, we can make progressive changes to things on campus such as the student newspaper or mascot in order to obtain a progressive image.
What is happening at The Rebel Yell is monumental, and its staff is molding history for the better, not the worse. The staff is asking readers to be a part of the decision of the new name by emailing name suggestions straight to firstname.lastname@example.org. We suggest that if you want to have a voice, send in a name or idea and be a part of the better half of history.
The Nevada Sagebrush editorial board can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.