Around noon Friday, I stood in the lobby outside of The Inn at Ole Miss ballroom. I was there among dozens of other members of the UM community who were angered and astonished by the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees’ decision to circumvent their own process and choose an inside candidate who had not applied to serve our university as its 18th chancellor.
Many students and faculty members carried signs. Many chanted. However, Dean of Students Brent Marsh said students should be “thoughtful” in the ways we convey our issues with this corrupt process and decision.
So, here, Dean Marsh, is my thoughtful response — in writing, the medium that all of my UM professors have taught me is best to accurately express my thoughts.
The supposed adults in the room, who ought to model our university’s values, have failed to do so. By not speaking up about the corruption inherent in the IHL’s decision, administrators like Marsh have gone against the interests of the students, faculty and alumni for whom this process is meant.
UPD Chief Ray Hawkins deliberately said the reason for the press conference’s cancelation was because some attendees chose “not to be civil,” likely referencing the Creed’s call for “fairness and civility.”
If Chief Hawkins did believe in civility, he would have empathized with the members of the community he is required to protect in their anger at an uncivil process and decision. Perhaps he would have forcibly removed the IHL members from the room instead of student activist Cam Calisch.
Ford Dye, vice president of the IHL, called on students to “abide by the Ole Miss Creed,” while the organization he helps lead has shown none of the “personal and professional integrity” that the Creed challenges us to believe in.
If IHL members like Dye did have professional integrity, they would have interviewed their list of finalists, considered their applications and made a decision based on the input of the UM community. They would have at least acted like they believed in their own rules.
If Glenn Boyce had personal integrity, he would have denied the “back door” interview offered to him by IHL, recognizing how problematic such a move was, and chosen honesty, transparency and fairness.
But he didn’t. He and at least seven other state leaders chose dishonesty, secrecy and fraud. And now we’re here.
When the people charged with enforcing our Creed’s calls for “fairness,” “civility” and “integrity” can’t respect those standards themselves, what are we to do?
Liam Nieman is a senior Southern studies and English major from Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania.