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."