The University of Mississippi removes state flag

Ashley Gambrel
The Oxford Eagle

After days of voting, protesting, and debating, the University of Mississippi has removed the state flag from the Lyceum Circle.

The flag was taken down early Monday morning by the University of Mississippi Police Department.

“In my opinion, this should have happened a long time ago,” Andrew Hulbert, 21, a senior biology pre-med major said. “Being an African American in Mississippi, I have always seen Ole Miss for its racial history.”

On Oct. 16, hundreds of students and faculty members gathered in the Circle to express their views and feelings about the flag flying on campus. Many students were offended by the flag and felt it did not represent the university’s creed.

Shortly after the peaceful protest concluded, members of the International Keystone Knights, along with their families, arrived on campus with their Confederate flags flying high.

IMG_4589Students, in disbelief and insulted, confronted the Keystone Knights to demand an explanation for their actions and remarks. Among these students was senior English major Ralpheal Patton.

“I respect the Keystone Knights for coming to campus last week to defend and stand up for what they believe in, just as the students at the university were doing,” Patton said. “I do not agree with all of the things that they said or stood for, but I do respect them for being a voice.”

The Associated Student Body and the Faculty Senate met the following week, where both groups unanimously voted to remove the flag from campus.

“I think that this is a very positive representation for, not only our school, but for Mississippi as a whole,” Hulbert said. “I hope that this propels us into a new norm here, and that we set a standard throughout the state and the South as we move forward and center our emphasis on the inclusion and equality of all students.”IMG_4477

Many students were certain about their views on the flag. Some were completely against removing the flag, arguing that it represented their heritage.  Others, like junior broadcast journalism major Kaitlyn Collins, 20, started out feeling one way, but changed her opinion.

“I was not sure about how I felt in the beginning,” Collins said. “But after giving it a lot of thought, I now understand why some people may have issues with the flag.”

Some students see a bright and prosperous future for the university since the flag has been removed. Now all students, no matter their race or ethnicity, can walk the campus together without the constant reminder of what the flag represented.

“I see this making a huge impact on the relationships that students from different backgrounds may develop with their peers,” Patton said. “It gave us a chance to hear voices that have never been heard, and to meet people that we have never met.”

The university’s history of racism and inequality is widely known, however numerous students feel that the removal of this symbol from the Circle is a step in the right direction.

“It is only the beginning of the inclusiveness that is going to be shown at the university moving forward,” Patton said.

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