EDUCATION

Mississippi flag removed from university campus

Jac Bedrossian
The Oxford Eagle

After overwhelming support from the university’s community, the interim chancellor removed the Mississippi state flag from campus.

The flag waved for 167 years, displaying a Confederate emblem above campus.

Interim Chancellor Morris Stocks called to take down the flag over the weekend. He decided to remove the flag when the campus opened Monday morning. There were several staff members that watched the flag come down from the Lyceum.

“The police officers came, and they were in uniform,” said Stocks. “They performed a very respectful ceremony, lowered the flag and folded it.”

The Mississippi state flag is being prepared to be stored in the university’s archives, along with pictures of the historic event.

“We want to have a welcoming environment for everyone,” said Stocks. “We felt the best way to do that was by lowering the state flag and placing it in our university’s archives.”

Stocks said he was greatly influenced by the campus community to take down the flag. Over the past few weeks, the undergraduate student senate, faculty senate and graduate student senate held meetings to vote on whether or not the flag should be removed from campus grounds.

A majority of senate members asked for the flag to come down. The undergraduates voted for a resolution to take down the flag with a 33-15-one vote, and the faculty senate joined their resolution voting 41-1. The graduate student senate also shared their support by voting 9-1 in favor of taking down the flag.

The undergraduate student body led the initiative to take down the state’s flag on campus. One week ago, the Associated Student Body held a rally to protest the flag.

Buka Okoye, president of the university’s NAACP chapter, said the week was “amazing.”

“Having the students just come together and speak up on a topic that, for the most part, has been ignored for the past couple decades,” he said. “For the first time, saying this can no longer be tolerated, let’s talk about this, and let’s take the symbol down.”

Allen Coon, College Democrats president, has made a big impact on the interim chancellor’s decision to take down the flag. He said that his push to remove the flag came after the  race-related massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, this summer.

“We know that we have momentum, because of the events that occurred in Charleston and the national conversation that’s been occurring in communities and campuses across the nation,” said Coon. “So we thought now is the time, if ever, for us to act and to bring these issues to the forefront of the conversation.”

The University of Mississippi is the fourth campus to take down the state flag. Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University and Alcorn State University have also stopped flying the flag.

In 2001, Mississippi State University’s faculty senate voted  in support of changing the state flag before a statewide referendum. Both Delta State University and the University of Southern Mississippi have made statement about redesigning the Mississippi state flag.

“It’s really impactful to know that we, as students, can make a difference on our campus,” said Coon.

With momentum growing with the flag removal, Coon said he wants to address Ventress Hall and the Confederate statue in the circle next, but he’s grateful of the impact he and others have made on campus.

“I just think today is a very powerful moment for the University of Mississippi,” said Coon. “I’m very proud to be a student here.”

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