Ole Miss Moves Toward Healing

This photo of students at Ole Miss burning an Obama/Biden yard sign in protest of the president's re-election victory went viral Election night.

This photo of students at Ole Miss burning an Obama/Biden yard sign in protest of the president's re-election victory went viral Election night.

Less than one day after national election results sent racial tensions perilously close to boiling over into a much uglier episode, Ole Miss students are quickly moving towards healing and reconciliation.

We Are One, a student organization that grew out of past racial incidents on the Oxford campus will lead a candlelight walk this evening at 6 p.m. starting at Union Plaza.

Last night, around the time the national cable networks were calling the election in favor of President Barack Obama, a group of about 40 Ole Miss students started congregating near the student union. Soon, the crowd swelled tenfold to about 400, university police said.

Susan Glisson, the executive director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, which is helping to facilitate the event, said students wanted to send a message that the campus can come together and affirm the school's values.

"I think generally people are saddened and troubled that this happened and are committed to a serious and speedy response," Glisson said of the mood on campus today.

Sorting out exactly what all transpired on the campus of close to 17,000 students has been the subject of intense speculation on social networks.

Chancellor Dan Jones, who characterized the events as the result of "students who took a very immature and uncivil approach to expressing their views about the election," confirmed "reports of the use of racial language by some."

"The University leadership strongly condemns this kind of behavior and is embarrassed that any students associated with the university would use this kind of language," Jones said.

Racially charged exchanges between whites and African Americans on Twitter and Instagram continued throughout the evening.

Jones continued: "Our university creed calls for the respect of each individual and for fairness and civility. The investigation of this event will be thorough and individuals found in violation of any law will be referred to appropriate authorities. Individuals found in violation of university policy will be dealt with appropriately through the student conduct process."

Ole Miss officials also said that university police made two disorderly conduct arrest, one for failure to obey police order and one for public intoxication. Jones said the university received no injuries or property damage.

Scanning the social media world, the only property that appeared to be damaged was an Obama/Biden yard sign set ablaze.

Perhaps the most damage was done to the reputation of the school where a riot erupted in 1962 over the enrollment of the school's first African American student, James Meredith.

Running parallel to the antagonistic Twitter exchanges between students were current and former students' expressions of regret that last night's events could further tarnish the embattled institution's reputation.

"As we have acknowledged throughout this year of recognizing fifty years of racial integration at our university, despite evidence of progress, we still live in an imperfect world. All of us in the university community must recommit ourselves to condemn hate and to continue our work to assure our university is a safe and welcoming place for every individual every day," Jones said.

Glisson said the institute would have an integrated tent in front of Barnard Observatory for this weekend's home game against Vanderbilt to further encourage interaction between students of different races.

More than 200 students signed up within an hour of information about the peace walk going on the Winter Institute's Facebook page. If the size of tonight's crowd eclipses last night's, Glisson said it would send a powerful message:

"Despite some bigotry and hatred that may linger, as a university, we will come together and affirm our values."

Comments

donnaladd 1 year, 10 months ago

Here's Chancellor Jones' statement today, verbatim:

November 7, 2012

Dear Ole Miss Family,

There are media reports of incidents on our campus last evening in the wake of the election results being announced. First, let me assure all of you that the campus is quiet and safe this morning for all of our students. While the investigation into last night’s events continues, we are grateful there are no reports of injuries or property damage.

The reports of the use of racial language by some have been confirmed by our campus police. The University leadership strongly condemns this kind of behavior and is embarrassed that any students associated with the university would use this kind of language. Our university creed calls for the respect of each individual and for fairness and civility. The investigation of this event will be thorough and individuals found in violation of any law will be referred to appropriate authorities. Individuals found in violation of university policy will be dealt with appropriately through the student conduct process.

As we have acknowledged throughout this year of recognizing fifty years of racial integration at our university, despite evidence of progress, we still live in an imperfect world. All of us in the university community must recommit ourselves to condemn hate and to continue our work to assure our university is a safe and welcoming place for every individual every day.

Sincerely, Daniel W. Jones, MD Chancellor

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donnaladd 1 year, 10 months ago

The university's statement today, verbatim:

The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss)

11/7/2012

Statement from the University of Mississippi

OXFORD, Miss. – University police were notified by students shortly before midnight Tuesday that Twitter chatter was indicating students were gathering near the student union to protest the results of the election. The officers found 30-40 students gathered in front of the union, and over the next 20 minutes the gathering had grown to more than 400 students, many of whom were chanting political slogans. The crowd was ordered to disperse by university police, and after about 25 minutes students had returned to residence halls. About 100 students gathered again at one hall, and university police dispersed the group and made two arrests for disorderly conduct, including one for public intoxication and one for failure to comply with police orders.

“While we are grateful that there were no injuries and there was no property damage, we are very disappointed in those students who took a very immature and uncivil approach to expressing their views about the election,” said University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones. “The gathering seems to have been fueled by social media, and the conversation should have stayed there.”

“Unfortunately, early news reports quoted social media comments that were inaccurate. Too, some photographs published in social media portrayed events that police did not observe on campus. Nevertheless, the reports of uncivil language and shouted racial epithets appear to be accurate and are universally condemned by the university, student leaders and the vast majority of students who are more representative of our university creed.”

Jones said, “Parents are being notified that it’s a normal day on campus and that one of America’s safest campuses is safe again this morning, though all of us are ashamed of the few students who have negatively affected the reputations of each of us and of our university. We are initiating a thorough review of this incident to determine the facts and any follow-up actions that may be necessary.”

Jones said, “We are reminding our students of relevant statements within the university creed: The University of Mississippi is a community of learning dedicated to nurturing excellence in intellectual inquiry and personal character in an open and diverse environment. As a voluntary member of this community: I believe in respect for the dignity of each person. I believe in fairness and civility. I believe in personal and professional integrity.”

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donnaladd 1 year, 10 months ago

Lafayette County Political Party Comments on Election Night Events at Ole Miss

For immediate release, 7 Nov 2012, Oxford, Mississippi

The Democratic and Republican Executive Committees of Lafayette County collectively join Chancellor Dan Jones in condemning the inappropriate behavior displayed on campus last night. Although our organizations encourage spirited debate and engagement among University of Mississippi students on political campaigns, there is no place for divisive and disrespectful confrontations like those that occurred on campus last night. The heat of the campaign is no excuse for violent words or actions. We too encourage our students and our community to revisit the university creed we all hold dear, which calls for us to represent ourselves with dignity, civility, and integrity. As both Democrats and Republicans, we have full faith in our University leadership to continue to set a standard of tolerance, high character, and a respect for others. We expect all Ole Miss students to rise to that example, as the majority of our students already do.

Justin Cluck, Chair of the Lafayette County Democratic Committee Geoffrey Yoste, Chair of the Lafayette County Republican Committee

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