The Daily Mississippian, like the University of Mississippi, has not always stood against hate.
We sometimes participated in upholding a vision of our campus and city that rested on outdated ideas about race and gender that some people in our community wish still existed. There are days when we didn’t do the right thing.
But today is not one of them.
Today, we can look to those in our past who demonstrated the power student journalists have when they speak up for what is right.
In 1962, editor-in-chief Sidna Brower wrote an editorial urging the community to come together in the wake of the riots following James Meredith’s integration, causing her to be formally censored by the Associated Student Body Senate. In 2008, our staff penned an editorial denouncing the men donned in white, black and red hoods who marched on our campus. In 2015, when the Associated Student Body prepared to vote to take down the Mississippi state flag flying high above the heart of campus, our staff spoke up in support of progress and respect. Today is no different.
The Daily Mississippian of today rejects our university’s history of complicity and, instead, chooses to stand against hate.
That is why The Daily Mississippian staff is calling for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning to rename the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and for the journalism school to entirely cut ties with former UM professor, assistant vice chancellor, donor and namesake of the school, Ed Meek.
His name and the division it has come to represent do not align with our values. This change is absolutely necessary to uphold everything we stand for — as journalists, as students, as individuals. Students should not have to attend a school whose name makes them feel discriminated against.
The 2018-19 editorial staff of the Daily Mississippian condemns the remarks made by Meek. We wholly denounce his tone and the sentiments he expressed. His post clearly demonstrated racist and sexist language and does not align with the values of our publication or those of the university we attend.
In his post, Meek said, “We all share in the responsibility to protect the values we hold dear.” We do not, in fact, hold dear the same values Meek made clear in his post. The values he demonstrated are not those of The Daily Mississippian. They are not those of the School of Journalism. They are not those of Ole Miss.
As the University of Mississippi Creed says, “The University of Mississippi is a community of learning dedicated to nurturing excellence in intellectual inquiry and personal character in an open and diverse environment.” The Creed encourages, as we do, respect for the dignity of each person as well as fairness and civility.
We, as student journalists, must fight against bigotry and prejudice. It is our duty to stand up to those who seek to further divide us or discriminate against our fellow students. We must uphold the value of the education we receive here from the University of Mississippi, and we must uphold the integrity of the practice of journalism.
It is time to stop ostracizing those who may not look or act like us. It is time to stand up for what we know to be right. It is time to move past the history that continues to plague our campus.
There is no better time than now.
Our community’s culture has perpetuated and reinforced antiquated stereotypes about our university for too long. It is time for the slurs, the derision, the hatred to end.
Meek devalued the integrity of those two black students for the color and visibility of their skin. In response, we need to embrace, welcome and celebrate the diversity of our university’s community.
Today, we believe this staff editorial solidifies our place on the right side of history — a history that is so painfully marred by mistakes we dare not repeat.
History may repeat itself — but not here.