Speak truth to power.
It’s the principle lesson I learned during my time at the university — a lesson many student journalists learn during their time here and not necessarily in the classroom. For decades, student journalists on this campus have regularly reported on race relations, exposing inequality, bigotry and the gradual transformation of a university once proudly branded by Confederate symbolism.
We urged students to stop rioting over James Meredith’s enrollment in 1962. We shed the first light on why John Hawkins, the university’s first black cheerleader, refused to wave the Confederate flag at football games. We covered the life and death of Colonel Reb and why you can’t take a stick in Vaught-Hemingway. We documented Klansmen and white supremacists who never failed to make their way to Oxford whenever the university’s “traditions” were at risk of disappearing. And we had a front-row seat when Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American presidential candidate, debated John McCain at the Ford Center in 2008.
Today’s student journalists are faced with the same challenge of spotlighting issues of injustice on campus. Sadly, they’ve now got to cover it in their own backyard.
The persistence of student journalism during the university’s ugliest years is something unique to Ole Miss, a place always facing an uphill battle when it comes to overcoming negative perception. It is something in which the journalism school should take tremendous pride.
Ed Meek’s actions should not only be condemned — they should hold consequences. Students and alumni of the J-school deserve better than to be associated with someone insinuating the presence of young black women on the Square at 2 a.m. is indicative of a crime problem in Oxford.
There is no excuse. There is no spin opportunity. And there is no reason that man’s name should be on a building that represents the opposite of Meek’s racist, misogynistic views.
DM Editor in Chief, 2009-10
Yearbook Editor in Chief, 2010-11
One of the first things I learned while studying journalism at the University of Mississippi was the importance of a name. Rule number one: Always, always check the spelling of someone’s name before you write anything about them. After that, there are a handful of other journalism commandments one must always observe: defend freedom of speech, remain neutral and objective, resist any efforts to distort information or introduce censorship.
Ed Meek’s Facebook post and subsequent “apology” is a slap in the face to anyone who has or is working towards a degree from UM’s journalism school. The values he has expressed are highly offensive and unacceptable — not to mention, totally out of line with the lessons taught at the school bearing his name. Meek does not represent the School of Journalism and New Media that I and so many others worked hard to earn a diploma from, and his name on that diploma causes “the real estate value” of our degrees “to plummet.”
The hard-working students and educators, past and present, at the university’s journalism school do not deserve to be associated with a man whose values do not align with the ethics and values of good journalism, with the Ole Miss Creed or with the efforts of Oxonians, Mississippians and Ole Miss Rebels who are working towards a brighter future for the University of Mississippi.
Enough, Oxford and Ole Miss leaders: Get on top of this before it is too late.
Class of 2017
Daily Mississippian Lifestyles Editor 2015-17
As journalists or members of media organizations, we are taught to remain objective and fair in our reporting. It’s important in the way we tell stories so that our audiences trust us. This is increasingly difficult when you watch disturbing acts, like racism, sexism and bias, transpire that infiltrate our integrity. We must hold those folks accountable.
Mr. Meek has shown on more than one occasion to fall within the bounds of violating our University’s Creed and journalistic integrity. Yet each time, he has seemingly been given a pass due to his prominence within the Oxford and Ole Miss community.
Our diverse Ole Miss and Oxford community deserve better. The graduates and current students of the journalism school deserve better. We have both watched the university make great strides to own up to its troubled history and continue to face it. We are proud that our chancellor and journalism school staff have condemned his racist actions. We need to press forward and protect those within our community. It’s time to step up and do more.
Ole Miss Meek School of Journalism Class of 2014
Daily Mississippian Design Editor 2013-14
It is a cruel and amusing non-mystery, the resentment some in Oxford like Ed Meek feel at black women existing in spaces typically occupied by white people. (This is not to suggest that black boys get significantly more room, of course, to be young and human, but there is undeniable privilege in being a football player — at least, one who doesn’t kneel as the “Star-Spangled Banner” plays.)
It would be a tiresome and ultimately fruitless activity to dissect Meek’s now-deleted Facebook status as if it communicated intelligent thought. It was not about his opinion of Oxford; it was about his feelings about black people. Suggesting that the police should be conscious of the appearance of two gorgeous young black women whose dresses embrace both their never-not-politicized bodies and the hard-won triumph of self-expression is the rambling of a bigot who clearly cannot be bothered with self-awareness and who does not deserve his name on the School of Journalism any more than Ross Barnett deserves his name on the reservoir in Rankin County.
Class of 2016
Daily Mississippian Opinion Editor 2014-15
It is never a greater time than now to understand the effects of a share on Facebook, a photo taken or a video recorded. Those images and words create omnipresent thoughts in consumers that can influence the lens through which we each experience life and others.
Ed Meek, after whom the Meek School of Journalism and New Media is named, recently shared posts that revealed people fighting in several facilities in Oxford as well as innocent women photographed to what seems to be Meek’s discretion.
One would think that Meek would be aware of how posts influence the way we interpret situations and experiences. Nevertheless, Meek chose this moment to play into the stereotype of all things racist and slut-shame beautiful women enjoying a night in Oxford.
We must also understand that women have complete control over their bodies. Who women are and what women wear are not to blame here. To add to this, Meek must understand the influence that he has, based solely on his physical inheritance and how those things weigh heavily in terms of his influence.
Meek could have easily written a post about all of the disheartening events that took place in Oxford this weekend and gave a call of action to all people to enjoy Oxford. He could have taken a stance to change the negative narrative that surrounds our university. He could have worked to create a campaign of positive images from past football weekends to show everyone how to truly enjoy being a Rebel in Oxford.
However, he used these black people as the scapegoat for the incidents. There was an array of events that involved white people that same weekend that Meek forgot. His argument about policing is sometimes dysfunctional and counterproductive. His banter with members of his Facebook community only adds to his lack of cultural competency and community advancement. In an effort to save face, the publishing guru deleted the original posts and shared a video that exhibits white men fighting in the Grove and casually refers to these people as “family.”
This is cowardly. Where was this idea of “family” when Meek slut-shamed these women. If Meek wanted to show that his intentions were not prejudiced, he should own what he said and apologize.
As a human, I am disappointed in all of the physical and social violence that took place this weekend. I challenge us all to be aware of those in our circles and to step in to stop violence. I challenge us to understand that shares on Facebook can be detrimental to people. I challenge us to love and enjoy Oxford. Most of all, I challenge us all to understand that who we are has influence. We can either use that power to merge and foster community, or we can use those tools as weapons. I pray we all choose the former.
Meek School of Journalism Class of 2018