It takes a lot of gumption for a state university to break with the very government that funds it, but politically-involved students at Ole Miss (a.k.a. The University of Mississippi) recently decided it was high time that the state’s legislators knew that they are not pleased with the state’s flag, which since 1894 has featured the Confederate battle flag in its top left corner.
On Tuesday, the 49 members of the university’s student senate voted 33-15 (with one abstention) to pass a resolution calling for the removal of the state flag from campus grounds. If school administrators agree, Ole Miss will become the fourth college in the state to make this decision.
“I think it shows that we as a student body recognize that these symbols of white supremacy have no place on our campus,” student senator Allen Coon told The Washington Post just days after KKK supporters appeared on campus to protest the vote. “They affect people that are marginalized. They make students feel excluded on their own campus and they promote ideals of hate and racial oppression.”
The resolution, which Coon co-authored in collaboration with several student organizations, including the school’s NAACP chapter and National Pan-Hellenic Chapter, states that “the presence of the state flag on UM’s campus undermines efforts to promote diversity and create a safe, tolerant academic environment for all students,” and that “taking down the state flag on campus grounds would advance the university’s efforts to create an inclusive space for all students.”
With the students having made their position clear, the resolution will next go before Associated student Body Senate president Rod Bridges, who, despite his right to veto the measure, has said on record that he would give the resolution his stamp of approval if it passed in the student senate. From there, the measure would go before interim school chancellor Morris Stocks, who has yet to make any such promises, though he’s previously spoken out in favor of changing the Mississippi state flag.
For its part, the student senate will continue to take on the difficult issues of race, history, and heritage at one of the South’s oldest universities whether or not the school removes the flag.
“This is the first step of many,” Coon told the Post. “Our campus rife is with Confederate iconography. We intend to address these symbols in the coming months.”
(Image via Shutterstock)