The vice president of programming for the university’s Interfraternity Council did not sign the joint letter from the UM Greek community calling for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees to vote on the relocation of the Confederate monument on campus.
This letter comes over a year after the Associated Student Body (ASB) introduced a resolution for the relocation to the Confederate cemetery behind the Tad Smith Coliseum. The resolution passed unanimously there and in several other votes held by university governing bodies. Last year, Greek life leadership did not comment on the decision.
All other current council members and chapter presidents of the Interfraternity Council (IFC), Panhellenic Council (CPH) and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) signed the letter.
The letter, originally proposed by Delta Psi president Drew Leopard, asked the IHL board that the “matter be handled swiftly.” Leopard posted the first draft of the statement on June 4, and by June 10, all Greek members who were charged to sign but one had signed it. The only signature missing was that of Ryan Mohr, a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity.
The same day that the Greek councils released their mostly signed statement, another student-led campaign to urge the IHL to vote on monument relocation at its June meeting was launched: UMoveTheStatue. Mohr mocked another student who posted the link to the campaign’s petition when it was posted in a GroupMe.
In an email to The Daily Mississippian, Mohr said that while he agrees with other statements made in the Greek community’s letter — such as the condemnation of racism, bigotry and George Floyd’s death and the commitment to creating a more inclusive campus — he does not agree with the relocation of the Confederate monument.
“I feel that prescribing motive to men who lived and died 150 years ago is, at best, an imperfect undertaking,” Mohr said. “I do not feel that all of those men fought because they were motivated by an overwhelming hatred for African-Americans, rather than out of a desire to defend their states and homes.”
“For generational Southerners such as myself and many other members of the Ole Miss community, the statue is seen not as a monument to racial animosity but rather a tribute to men who died defending, in their eyes, a landscape, region and ultimately a university that for all of its warts and imperfections we have come to revere,” he added.
Seven other IFC executive members did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication, and several refused to provide The Daily Mississippian with Mohr’s contact information. IFC president Cole Barnhill did not specifically comment on Mohr’s decision, but he said that his council is developing initiatives to educate members on diversity, equity and inclusion. He deferred all other questions to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Leopard said he does not think that Mohr’s decision to refrain from signing takes away from the message that the Greek community supports the ASB’s relocation resolution.
“Not signing that statement is a decision that he is going to have to live with,” Leopard said.
Members of the university community took to the comment section of IFC’s repost of the statement on Instagram to ask why Mohr did not sign. The comments have since been removed, and now the account disabled all comments on the post. On other platforms, several community members expressed disdain toward Mohr’s decision.
“Fifty out of the fifty-one of our Greek community’s leaders have taken a stand behind last year’s unanimous vote by the ASB,” Leopard added. “By now, the message should be clear — our students want that statue moved.”