Ole Miss alumnus Ed Meek, namesake of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, posted a pair of photos and commentary to Facebook today that drew widespread criticism. Meek served as the university’s assistant vice chancellor for public relations and marketing for 37 years beginning in 1964.
Ed Meek, namesake for the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and former UM assistant vice chancellor for public relations and marketing, posted these images to Facebook along with a call for Oxford and Ole Miss leaders to “protect the values we hold dear.” Screenshot via Facebook, edited to protect the identities of those pictured.
Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter responded to Meek’s post, condemning its “racial overtone” and suggesting Meek delete the post.
In his original post, Meek wrote, “Enough, Oxford and Ole Miss leaders, get on top of this before it is too late.” He attached images of two black women he claimed were visiting the Square on Saturday night.
Within four hours of its posting, Meek’s words had garnered more than 500 comments and 600 shares. One of those comments came from Vitter’s Facebook account.
Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter responded to Ed Meek’s controversial Facebook post, condemning its “racial overtone.”
“The photos in his (Meek’s) post suggest an unjustified racial overtone that is highly offensive,” Vitter wrote.
When The Daily Mississippian called Meek’s cellphone for a response, Meek hung up the phone.
The Daily Mississippian will continue to report on this developing story. Follow @thedm_news on Twitter for updates.
Updated at 7:31 p.m.
The Meek School of Journalism and New Media released a statement in response to Ed Meek’s Facebook post, calling the post “highly offensive.” The statement was signed by Meek School leadership and reads as follows:
“Earlier today, the donor whose name is on our school, Ed Meek, made a post on his personal Facebook account that we find highly offensive. This post is in no way associated with or represents our school, our students or our faculty. We are embarrassed by his actions. We agree with our Chancellor Jeff Vitter when he said “We all want to ensure a safe, family-friendly environment at the university and in Oxford, and we condemn the tone and content of this social media post. The photos in his post suggest an unjustified racial overtone that is highly offensive and we urge him to withdraw his comment and apologize to anyone offended.”
Dean Will Norton and Assistant Deans Patricia Thompson, Debora Wenger, Scott Fiene and Jennifer Simmons signed the statement. Thompson is assistant dean for student media and faculty adviser for The Daily Mississippian. The Student Media Center is an independent department within the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.
Meek deleted the post from his Facebook page. The Daily Mississippian has been unable to reach him for comment.
Updated at 8:51 p.m.
Ed Meek shared an apology for his controversial post on Facebook just before 8:00 p.m. Wednesday night, but he deleted the apology shortly afterward.
“I apologize to those offended by my post,” Meek wrote in the now-deleted apology. “My intent was to point out we have a problem in The Grove and on the Oxford Square.”
A petition titled “Remove Ed Meek’s Name From the Ole Miss School of Journalism,” created by senior public policy and political science major Raven Francomano, had garnered 233 signatures as of 8:35 p.m. Wednesday night.
“I felt that everything we have worked for as a student body to promote unity, inclusivity, and racial reconciliation has been hindered—and will continue to be— as long as this type of dialogue is dismissed without repercussion,” Francomano said.
The University of Mississippi Black Student Union released a statement Wednesday night, condemning Meek’s comments. The BSU wrote that “(Meek’s) statement has clear racial undertones that must be addressed.”
“The comments made by the namesake of the journalism program are not only sexist but also racially discriminatory,” the BSU’s statement reads. “These comments perpetuate the racist stigma that this university often carries and affects the retention and recruitment of African American students as well as underrepresented populations on this campus.”
The full statement from the BSU can be read here
Sam Cox, a senior integrated marketing and communications major and president of Rebels Against Sexual Assault, voiced his condemnation of Ed Meek’s comments on Wednesday night. He said RASA does not condone any of the sentiments contained in Meek’s original Facebook post.
“The pictures (Meek) took without their consent, that’s completely inappropriate that should never be posted on social media,” Cox said. “No matter what you wear, it doesn’t imply anything about your consent to give sexual acts or your value as a person.”
He said RASA continuously tries to educate people about consent. Cox said the way a person dresses does not imply anything about sexuality or consent and that Meek’s post seems to ignore that concept. He said Meek’s post incorrectly implies that the values women hold can be demonstrated by what they wear.
“People can wear whatever they want and feel free to express themselves,” Cox said. “At Ole Miss, I think it’s definitely an issue, especially with men in general. Not to say every man, but (it’s) definitely centered around men who weren’t educated well about sex and didn’t get proper sex education.”
Updated at 10:01 p.m.
Associated Student Body President Elam Miller released a statement Wednesday night in which he cited the UM Creed when denouncing Meek’s comments. He said the ASB “strongly denounces all actions that express prejudices towards any members of our community” and is calling for a response from the university.
“The recent comments posted on social media by UM alumnus and donor Ed Meek reflect both racism and sexism towards members of our community,” Miller said. “The racial undertones of the post are not representative of what we believe, stand for, or tolerate as a student body. We condemn such derogatory speech and objectification of valued individuals of the LOU Community.”
The full statement from ASB can be read here.
Just after 9 p.m. Wednesday night, the University of Mississippi’s first black ASB president, Nicholas “Nic” Lott, voiced support for Meek’s character and wrote that Meek’s post was made out of concern.
“Folks, I spoke with my friend Ed Meek an hour ago. I’ve known Ed since my days at Ole Miss. Ed has helped a lot of people throughout his career, including myself. Those pictures should not have been posted, but it doesn’t make him a racist,” Lott’s post reads. “He loves Oxford and he loves Ole Miss. He posted several people, white and black, from this weekend’s incidents. I believe he is just concerned about what took place.”