Racist act. Administration fumble. Public outrage. Rinse. Repeat.
The University of Mississippi is fractured. Any time a member of our community is publicly caught doing something racist — a tradition as old as our institution — there are two reactions: one from students and faculty and another from the administration. This page demonstrates the stark, predictable difference. Student and faculty reactions are often anti-racist, unafraid to call out wrongs. The administration’s response is slow and careful not to upset those in the community comfortable with racism. Although the investigation is ongoing, the administrative has been more reactive than proactive.
Interim Chancellor Sparks, July 26
“In the last 24 hours, national and regional media outlets have reported on an image depicting three young men holding guns in front of a bullet-riddled sign that commemorates the place in the Mississippi Delta where Emmett Till’s body was found.”
Students push this university forward. Our university progresses, not because of, but in spite of our administration. The state flag no longer flies in the Circle because of students’ work. In 2016, when a member of our community referenced lynching, the administration did not respond — until students protested. Even now, the administration is slow to relocate the Confederate monument, which, of course, students campaigned to move. The university still hasn’t sent plans to relocate the monument to the state government.
The university was made aware of the above Instagram picture in March, yet no statement was given until there was public outrage.
On July 26, Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks started his initial statement by saying, “In the last 24 hours, national and regional media outlets have reported on (the above picture).” If there were no media coverage and if students had not demanded appropriate action, would Sparks have made a statement at all?
Students should not bear the full responsibility of pushing our university forward. Black students, workers and faculty should not have to wonder if they belong in the university community. When we organize, march and protest against racism, it is not only a sign of our student body’s strength but also a sign of our administration’s weakness. Students should be in class, comfortable knowing we have an anti-racist administration that will protect black people.