Sunday, January 29, 2023

ASB President Says Letter to Students Supporting Chancellor's Diversity Plan Doesn't Require Cabinet Vote

Lyceum-West-Facade has received a letter signed by the president and vice president of the Associated Student Body (ASB) and addressed to the students of the University of Mississippi. The letter broadly supports Chancellor Dan Jones’ six-point inclusiveness report, although ASB President Davis Rodgers acknowledges that no vote of the ASB cabinet or legislative body took place endorsing the letter and only a few cabinet and legislative staff members were consulted on its drafting.
“I’m aware of no ruling or ASB constitutional requirement that requires a vote or cabinet approval on a letter such as this to the student body,” Davis said. “The vice president and I did consult with ASB staff members and other students on their thoughts about the chancellor’s report, and in the editing and drafting of the report, but we took our own initiative to reach out to students. We want them to know we are here, and involved  and plan to take an active role to ensure the students’ voices are heard as this process moves forward.
“In the past, Davis continued, “we haven’t always been in a position to respond publicly to university actions and we felt the importance of this issue, at a time when most students are not on campus, called for us to reach out to students and reassure them that we’re involved.”
When asked what his fellow students and ASB members were saying to him about the report, Davis said most were supportive of initiatives to increase inclusiveness and create a welcoming university environment, but that nearly all students he talked to wanted to protect the use of “Ole Miss” as a cherished and acceptable name for the university.
Here is the letter:
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Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 5.31.22 PM has received many comments on the Chancellor’s Action Plan on inclusiveness. One of the most thoughtful is from former Daily Mississippian editor and respected veteran journalist Sidna Brower Mitchell:
“While I can somewhat understand Chancellor Dan Jones offering a plan for “fostering a more inclusive and welcoming environment” on the Ole Miss campus, I wonder if he is trying to rewrite history.
Will the bullet holes in the Lyceum be removed because that building was hit during the Civil War and also on the night of the riot when James Meredith integrated the university back in 1962?
Why was Confederate Drive named that in the first place? Why rename it Chapel Drive? After all, Mississippi was part of the Confederacy.
And what about the Confederate statute? What was its significance when it was put into place? Do people know the history of General Walker speaking from that statue the night of the 1962 riot?
As far as the name Ole Miss, I think of a grand old and gracious lady not the wife of some despicable plantation owner as many would have us believe. I guess we would have to come up with a new cheer and drop Hotty Toddy.
Rather than erase history, why not teach what happened — be it 52 years ago or 150 years ago? Hopefully people learn from mistakes. But perhaps, as the chancellor said by “offer(ing) more history, putting the past into context, telling more of Mississippi’s struggles with slavery, secession and their aftermath” will do just that. However, much depends on who writes and who teaches the history.
Frankly, my concern is that a big public relations campaign for Ole Miss to make all these changes will only bring more opportunities for undue criticism of the university and the state rather than note the progress that has been made over the years. Such actions make it sound as if Ole Miss is still the same school it was back in 1962 when the university and the state received so much bad publicity.
I’ve never understood why parents, religious leaders and teachers haven’t stressed what my father did when I was growing up in the 1950s: “You accept people for who they are, not the color of their skin, not their religion, not their parents and not where they live.”
Sidna Brower Mitchell
Andy Knef is editor of