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LOU Community Reactions Split Over IHL Decision to Remove Meek Name From Building

By Anna Grace Usery and Alyssa Schnugg
Editor-in-Chief, News Editor

After spending a lifetime of energy and resources to mold the School of Journalism into an academic hub for new media application, UM donor Ed Meek’s viral Facebook post ultimately severed his ties to the school that bore his name. 

Photo by Anna Grace Usery.

The Mississippi Institute of Higher Learning Board voted at their monthly meeting Oct. 18 to approve the removal of Meek’s name from the building. 

The School of Journalism and New Media building currently bears donor Ed Meek’s name. Photo from Meek’s Facebook page.

Meek requested Sept. 22 that his name be removed from the building after he posted photos of two black women on the Square during the weekend of Alabama game that associated them with a “3 percent decline in enrollment…and real estate values will plummet as will tax revenue.” The post drew a large amount of criticism and was removed by Meek that same night.

School of Journalism and New Media Dean Will Norton and the school’s assistant deans issued a joint statement this morning after the IHL’s decision:

“Today, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees accepted the request of the faculty of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media, and the request of Dr. Ed Meek, to remove his name from our school. We thank the Board, Chancellor Vitter and the university committees that supported this request. We also thank Dr. Meek for helping us in moving forward and in focusing on the education of our students, which is our first priority. We invite Dr. Meek to be part of our conversation about restoration, reconciliation and the reaffirmation of our values.”

Charles Mitchell, associate professor of journalism in the School of Journalism and New Media, said he and Meek have been friends for the past 30 years. 

“It’s a tough day for everybody involved,” he told HottyToddy.com. “I have a lot of respect for (Meek). But I know the school has to reflect university priorities.”

The reaction from the university community was mixed — from those who feel Meek was dealt an unfair blow to those who expressed relief his name would not appear on their future diploma.

Several current and past students who were interviewed for comment seemed to side with the IHL’s decision.

“I am still incredibly embarrassed to have his name on my diploma, especially since the university constantly promoted diversity, integrity, and inclusion,” alumnus Alexandra Morris said. “He represented none of the following. In all honesty, it breaks my heart to even call myself an Ole Miss alumna after this recent event.” 

Alumnus Taylor Prance said if IHL had ruled to keep the name, it would have stifled “the progress of inclusivity” at the school. 

“I am proud that my diploma will reflect the change during a pivotal time at our University,” Prance said.

Some students said the entire incident is a good lesson on how posts on social media can affect people.

“This shows that you have to be careful what you post because you don’t know how it will affect others,” said student Abigail Kessler. 

Senior IMC major Shelby Cusick said she will refrain from using Meek’s name on her future resume.

“I want my degree without (his name) because I don’t want people to Google it and think I have the same views as him,” Cusick said. “I think he’s done a lot for this school. I think people shouldn’t forget about him donating stuff but I also feel like what he said was very wrong.”

Local historian John Cofield commended Meek for his generosity to the school.

“With his financial contributions, constant cheerleading on the national stage, and continuous creation of scholarships for the school that will no longer bear his name, Ed Meek took Ole Miss journalism from a small department to a nationally recognized school,” Cofield said. “I am saddened to see his association with the Meek School of Journalism end this way.” 

A representative from the Our State Flag Foundation, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the state flag of Mississippi, told HottyToddy.com in a message on Facebook that it is a “total double standard and hypocrisy that the university has flipped out over the Meeks incident and essentially done nothing to JT Thomas.”

Thomas is a sociology professor who recently tweeted “Don’t just interrupt a Senator’s meal, y’all. Put your whole damn fingers in their salads. Take their apps and distribute them to the other diners. Bring boxes and take their food home with you on the way out. They don’t deserve your civility.” 

His response for disappointment in the Senators came after the Brett Kavanaugh Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

UM Provost Noel Wilkin could not be reached for comment regarding the university’s timeline in the next step of the name removal. 

Follow HottyToddy.com as this story develops. 

IMC 205 students contributed to this report

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