Ole Miss Student Writes Amazing Letter to Chancellor

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Chan­cel­lor Jones,


I believe it is fair to assume that the new Vice Chan­cel­lor posi­tion for diver­sity and inclu­sion was cre­ated in response to the events of last semes­ter regard­ing the James Mered­ith statue. I believe it is also fair to assume that the events of that evening were not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Greek com­mu­nity as a whole. With those two assump­tions in mind, I do not agree with the report that was issued via mass email this morn­ing, nor do I think that the cre­ation of the new Vice Chan­cel­lor posi­tion is the best approach to cre­at­ing a more diverse campus.

In your report, you dis­cuss the impli­ca­tions of the nick­name “Ole Miss,” and whether or not stu­dents and fac­ulty should con­tinue to use this nick­name in pro­fes­sional set­tings. What real impact will come of this? Does chang­ing our email address URL from “olemiss.edu” to “umiss.edu,” pro­mote diver­sity? Or does it sug­gest that we are a school that is ashamed of itself and ashamed of its past? While the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­sis­sippi has a his­tory that we may not be proud of as mod­ern Amer­i­cans, the best approach is not to do what we can to erase the past. While it may seem like a noble idea to restrict “Ole Miss” to the ath­letic field, the fact is that I will con­tinue to refer to the school as Ole Miss no mat­ter what. Does this make me a racist? Or does this make me a stu­dent that is fond of the nick­name (or sim­ply fond of fewer syl­la­bles)? Sim­ply put, I believe that our time and resources could be bet­ter spent on other issues rather than the con­no­ta­tions that a few peo­ple asso­ciate with the nick­name “Ole Miss.”


To quote another sec­tion of the report, “The major­ity of the stu­dents par­tic­i­pat­ing in the dis­cus­sion were Mis­sis­sip­pi­ans, and they blamed the bulk of the racially insen­si­tive flare ups on ‘out­siders.’ They attrib­uted this pat­tern to mis­con­cep­tions held by out-of-state stu­dents who mis­tak­enly assume the Uni­ver­sity is a place that embraces a racist ide­ol­ogy.” While I real­ize that this sec­tion of the report is a doc­u­men­ta­tion of some of the con­ver­sa­tions to be regarded as a “sam­ple” rather than a com­pre­hen­sive opin­ion poll of the cam­pus, the fact that these opin­ions have been released as part of the report forces me to believe that it is these opin­ions that are the dri­ving force behind the entire report. One of the eas­i­est forms of diver­sity a cam­pus can attain is by attract­ing stu­dents from other states. I am one of those stu­dents. How does it look when poten­tial incom­ing stu­dents from other states see that many Mis­sis­sip­pi­ans on cam­pus (which, if we’re being hon­est, the major­ity of stu­dents are from Mis­sis­sippi) view them as insti­ga­tors, racists, and out­siders? If I had seen a report like this when I was mak­ing my col­lege deci­sion, I can tell you that I would absolutely not view Ole Miss as a diverse cam­pus. Per­haps there are other issues that need to be addressed, such as the dis­crim­i­na­tion against stu­dents from other states. If the pri­mary goal in this entire sit­u­a­tion is to pro­mote diver­sity, con­sider these state­ments from past dis­cus­sions, and tar­get them as prob­lems as well.


How­ever, the com­ments about the Greek sys­tem are the most offen­sive. Chan­cel­lor Jones. I under­stand that these com­ments are not nec­es­sar­ily your opin­ion, and may not even be the opin­ion of many. As an Ole Miss stu­dent, a global ambas­sador, an ASB Sen­a­tor, and an active mem­ber of my soror­ity, being referred to as a girl “wed­ded to the sym­bols and beliefs of the South’s racist past” sim­ply for being a mem­ber of a Greek orga­ni­za­tion is both offen­sive, false, and, to be frank, it is hyp­o­crit­i­cal of the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­sis­sippi to post such com­ments in a report try­ing to pro­mote diver­sity. Because of the actions of three fra­ter­nity mem­bers last semes­ter, the entire Greek com­mu­nity is now sub­jected to the scold­ing looks of fac­ulty, admin­is­tra­tion, and every non-Greek stu­dent. How does that pro­mote diversity?


I have not met a sin­gle per­son who con­doned the actions of the boys who defiled the James Mered­ith statue. In fact, they were over­whelm­ingly rejected as “rep­re­sen­ta­tives” of their fra­ter­nity, and of the Greek sys­tem as a whole. So now where does this leave every Greek stu­dent on cam­pus? I am involved all over cam­pus, but since I am in a soror­ity, does that mean that I am noth­ing more than a bur­den to the project that is “diver­sity?” Greek stu­dents are now under the impres­sion that you, Chan­cel­lor Jones, believe the Greek sys­tem is a “prob­lem.” In your quest to pro­mote diver­sity, I would encour­age you to rec­og­nize the diver­sity and suc­cess that exists within the Greek sys­tem. Never once have Ole Miss Greek orga­ni­za­tions been com­mended for their tire­less phil­an­thropic work, nor for their con­tri­bu­tions to improv­ing the cam­pus. Many Greek stu­dents are involved in stu­dent gov­ern­ment. Are those stu­dents also the prob­lem that plagues our campus?


The real prob­lem through­out this entire sit­u­a­tion is that by try­ing to pro­mote racial diver­sity, you are cre­at­ing new prob­lems. While I agree that our his­tory as a state and as a school is not per­fect, that does not mean the admin­is­tra­tion should ostra­cize one group at the ben­e­fit of another. By cre­at­ing this new Vice Chan­cel­lor posi­tion for diver­sity and inclu­sion, you are sug­gest­ing to the rest of the world that Ole Miss is inher­ently a racist school, and her stu­dents are inca­pable of change on their own. And hon­estly, I do not believe that will do any­thing other than encour­age other “out­siders” to con­sider other schools when weigh­ing their col­lege options.


While the iso­lated events of the past do deserve action and atten­tion, blame should not be pinned on out-of-state stu­dents, or on the Greek sys­tem, sim­ply because the actual per­pe­tra­tors were both. As an out-of-state stu­dent and an active soror­ity mem­ber, it is offen­sive to read a report in which you claim to want noth­ing other than diver­sity, but in the same report, pin the blame on two groups of stu­dents. If you truly want to pur­sue diver­sity and inclu­sion, do so in a way that does not cre­ate more dis­en­fran­chise­ment along the way. Cel­e­brate the diver­sity that exists with­out blam­ing the major­ity for the crimes of the minority.


You opened your report by address­ing “All Who Love the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­sis­sippi,” imply­ing that, in order to truly love my school, I should agree with every­thing that fol­lowed in the report. Chan­cel­lor Jones, I love my school (arguably) more than any­one on this cam­pus, and your report could use some more research, inves­ti­ga­tion, and a broader base of opin­ion quotes to be truly on the right track to a diverse university.


From, One who loves Ole Miss


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