As a native Oxfordian whose parents were employed by Ole Miss for decades, I am writing to encourage you to support the students who seek to make the university a safe haven for immigrants.
As you well know, Oxford is incredibly fortunate to be home to Ole Miss. Because of the university’s influence, our schools are better, our local economy is more diverse and vibrant and our values are stronger. Without Ole Miss, it is quite easy to imagine a less fortunate Oxford.
The values of any academic institution, if it is truly such, represent open-mindedness, an acceptance of different ideas and peoples so long as they are not threatening, and an embrace of knowledge, which of course can only be complete if it is holistic and examines multiple perspectives.
Ole Miss stands for these ideas. It is home to students from around the country and the world. It hosts outstanding programs for honors students and international studies, and it has grappled with its racial legacy in an admirable manner. Oxford and the state of Mississippi should be proud of Ole Miss.
But Ole Miss can only be Ole Miss, can only REMAIN Ole Miss, if it continues to stand by the values of curiosity and openness. These mindsets engender empathy, a better understanding of the world and the inevitable progress that comes when capitalize in the abilities that all of us bring to the world in our own manners.
Though it is not without political risk and will invite backlash, making Ole Miss a safe haven for those whom it is able to help and support will only make the school and the town stronger.
These are, after all, people who are looking for nothing more than someone from Aberdeen, Batesville or Pascagoula: an opportunity.
I urge you to be the strong leader Ole Miss and the nation need at this time, not to fear what is different or unpopular and to help improve our town and the university.
Will Stanton is a resident of Oxford.