Ed Meek requested on Saturday night that his name be removed from the School of Journalism and New Media — one day after the school’s faculty asked him to make the request and three days after his controversial Facebook post.
“My desire … is for the School of Journalism to be a global leader in Journalism education,” Meek wrote in his statement. “I recognize that the attachment of my name to the School of Journalism is no longer in the best interest of that vision.”
Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter commended Meek on his request for the name change in a statement released late Saturday night.
“While his request tonight to remove his name from the Meek School of Journalism and New Media was made selflessly to permit the university to move forward, it is nonetheless regrettable and poignant,” Vitter said.
Meek School of Journalism and New Media faculty met at noon Friday to discuss how to move forward after Meek’s Facebook post received widespread criticism and national attention. The faculty group will meet again early Monday morning to discuss the school’s next steps after Meek’s request.
A statement released by the school’s faculty on Friday evening asked Meek to request that his name be removed from the School of Journalism and New Media within three days.
Also on Friday, Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter released a statement outlining the process for changing the name of a building on campus.
The letter states that any proposal to change the school’s name must be approved by the faculty of the School of Journalism and New Media, the Undergraduate and Graduate Councils and the Council of Academic Administrators.
If those academic organizations approve of the name change, Vitter would then make a recommendation to Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning for a final vote.
“This process is, by design, thoughtful and intentional,” Vitter’s statement reads. “It is open to input from students, faculty, staff and alumni, and it meets all accreditation requirements for changing organizational units on campus, including a unit’s name. We will follow this approach to consider any name change.”
The Executive Members of the Graduate Student Council, Christopher Bright-Ramos, Alex Sivvopoulos, Martin Genter and Andreas Vortisch, released a statement Sunday night in support of the administration’s actions in denouncing Meek’s post. The council said even though the students targeted were undergraduate students, “when someone hurts a fellow Rebel that person hurts us all, in a very real sense.”
“The person in question has asked that their name be removed from the School of Journalism,” the council’s statement reads. “We support this change. Forward Rebels. We march together towards a future far more honorable than the past we leave behind.”
On Sunday night, Jim Zook, associate vice chancellor for strategic communication and marketing, said he didn’t know if the process for changing the name of the School of Journalism and New Media is still relevant since Meek requested the name change, but said Vitter’s statement about the process still stands.
The Associated Student Body and Black Student Union met on Sunday evening to discuss the university’s next steps, following Meek’s request that his name be removed from the school.
ASB President Elam Miller said ASB stands by a statement it released Friday and added that it is critical that senior leadership at the university continues to hold town halls and involve students in upcoming decisions.
“It is important that we continue these conversations regarding inclusivity of all students further on our campus,” Miller said. “I believe that student input is key to the changing of the name, and I will continue to advocate for this, moving forward.”
Jarvis Benson, BSU president, said that though BSU understands the end goal is to remove Meek’s name from the school, the group feels that “there was a missed opportunity for the administration to show a public effort of support for our students by publicly denouncing Ed Meek’s name and all (of his) connections to the university.”
“I do feel that the school name change could happen in the near future,” Benson said. “However, I do believe that this name change should be a thoughtful process. The school and administration should clearly take into account the histories of … people who are honored with the school name (in the future).”
ASB and BSU released a joint statement Friday morning saying the two groups are working together to ensure all student concerns are heard.
Miller and Benson both signed the statement, which demands that the university’s Senior Leadership Group, which hosted a forum Thursday night, release a timeline of next steps to the entire student body that addresses Meek’s “racist and sexist comments.”
In addition, the statement also demands that the student body be represented in key meetings and conversations about the matter and calls for transparency and weekly reports from the Senior Leadership Group to the student body throughout the process.
“I think this is a great step forward for the university, since the university has been striving for years to change building and landmark names and add more context to the campus,” said Sam Cox, president of Rebels Against Sexual Assault.
Ainsley Ash, vice president of Ole Miss College Democrats, said she hopes “the university follows through with (Meek’s) request.”
“There is an overwhelming amount of support for the renaming of the journalism department, removal of the Confederate statue and an increase in policies that enhance the experience of (the) university’s minority students,” Ash said. “Whether or not these requests are met will reflect the university’s commitment, or lack thereof, to all of its students.”
Ole Miss College Republicans declined to comment on Meek’s request for the name change.
Read Meek’s full statement below:
“Today I have asked the University of Mississippi to remove my name from the School of Journalism and New Media. This past week I made a post on Facebook that reflected poorly on myself, the School and our University. It was never my intention to cast the problems our community faces as a racial issue. I do not believe that to be the case. I heartily apologize to all I have offended. I particularly apologize to those depicted in the photographs I posted. I was wrong to post them and regret that I did so.
I have spent my life in service to the Oxford-University community and have prided myself that I was a proponent of integration and diversity at all times. I helped to transform the department of Journalism into a School because of my passion for a free press, free speech, and an independent student media. My desire then and now is for the School of Journalism to be a global leader in Journalism education. I recognize that the attachment of my name to the School of Journalism is no longer in the best interest of that vision. I love Ole Miss too much to be one who inhibits the University and the School from reaching the highest potential and it is with that in mind that I make this request.”