Campus committees work to better Ole Miss

Posted on Jan 22 2013 - 8:45am by Lacey Russell

The work of two committees on campus has helped give The University of Mississippi a better image in the wake of the Nov. 6 election-night disturbance

The Incident Review Committee was created in response to a letter written by faculty to Chancellor Dan Jones. The letter, which was signed by 110 faculty and staff members at the university, voiced concerns about how the university had publicly handled the disturbance on campus.

“The Incident Review Committee was established after the election-night event specifically to determine the facts of what happened that night,” said Donald Cole, committee member and assistant provost. “The university legal system will use the results of this committee to determine if judicial processes should proceed.”

Phillip Waller/The Daily Mississippian

Phillip Waller/The Daily Mississippian

Cole said the committee sent a report to the administration before the end of the semester, and the findings of the committee should be made public soon. However, the committee’s work is subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. University officials said the committee will not be required to give any statements.

Another committee, called the Sensitivity and Respect Committee, existed before the election-night disturbance and is chaired by Cole. He said that while these two committees are similar, they play completely different roles for Ole Miss.

“The Sensitivity and Respect Committee is a standing committee, meaning that it is a permanent committee used to advise the chancellor,” Cole said.  “The committee’s objective is to serve as an immediate point of contact for any member of our university community who is subjected to actions or words that are in conflict with our EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) anti-discrimination policy.”

Since the election-night disturbance brought so much negative national attention to the university, the chancellor appointed additional members of the university to the standing committee to help expedite the report on the disturbance, according to Cole.

Public policy junior Tim Abram was one of the additional people appointed to the Sensitivity and Respect Committee in November as a student body representative.

“Working on this committee towards recommendations to improve our campus climate is a responsibility that I do not take on lightly,” Abram said.

The report to the administration from the Incident Review Committee was filed before the fall semester ended, and the report to the chancellor from the Sensitivity and Respect Committee should be filed by April, granting the administration’s desire to expedite the process to protect the university to the best of its ability.

“It sounds like the university is handling everything very well with these committees,” business freshman Jeff Schultz said. “When we left for winter break, everything seemed like a mess. Now, it seems to be a lot better.”