Dear Ole Miss Parents:
I’m sure many of you are aware of the unfortunate incidents that took place on our campus on Nov. 6. The hateful and small-minded actions of a handful of students caused pain and fear among fellow students as well as humiliation and embarrassment for our institution. Much is being done to address the conduct of the students involved in the incidents and to provide opportunities for all students to learn to express their views in civil, respectful, appropriate ways. I wanted to share with you our student leaders’ response to what happened on our campus on election night. I am proud of the stance they have taken and the leadership they have shown in helping all of us to move forward.
Leslie Banahan, M.Ed.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
An open letter to students, faculty and alumni of the University of Mississippi:
As student leaders of the University of Mississippi, we want to respond to the incidents that occurred on our campus last Tuesday night (Nov. 6). The hateful, small-minded actions committed by some students are unacceptable and embarrassing; they have tarnished the reputation of the university we love so dearly.
This year was special as we celebrated the university’s 50th year of integration — we’ve made substantial strides in race relations since 1962. However, after the reelection of President Barack Obama, a small group of students took to campus streets playing “Dixie,” shouting, “The South will rise again” and screaming racial slurs at their fellow students. This behavior is absolutely unacceptable on the University of Mississippi’s campus, and it flies in the face of the University Creed. Every single student on our campus pledges to uphold the values of the Creed at orientation — including respect for the dignity of each person, and treating others with fairness and civility. And, it is every student’s responsibility to hold one another accountable for living a life that embraces the tenets of the Creed.
We’ve made progress as a community and as a university since James Meredith bravely integrated our institution, but election night reminded us we still have a long way to go. The University of Mississippi is not a perfect place — we must not be complacent. We cannot settle for the status quo or think we’ve come far enough. That type of mentality is the reason inequality, injustice and prejudice still exist — and to move forward, we need to have meaningful dialogue with one another, face to face, not by tweets or text or Facebook. To move forward as a student body and university, we need to discuss our differences and strive to genuinely understand one another’s backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. Long gone should be the days of self-segregation, of exclusion, of hateful words and of ostracizing someone for being different. To students who believe what happened on our campus is somehow acceptable, and to those who partook in hateful speech: You are not welcome at the University of Mississippi. We do not want you here. Our campus is not a safe haven for hate.
The University of Mississippi is a campus for all who follow the principles of our Creed. We have our work cut out for us, but we’re ready for the challenge to keep progressing as a student body and as an institution. We are dedicated to fostering and honoring the University Creed not just on campus but also as representatives of the University of Mississippi around the state, the nation and the world.
President, Ole Miss College Democrats
Associated Student Body Senator, College of Liberal Arts
Chairman of the Mississippi Federation of College Republicans
President, Associated Student Body
President, Interfraternity Council
President-Elect, National Pan-Hellenic Council
President, Panhellenic Council
President, Black Student Union
President, Residence Hall Association