Ole Miss student’s viral comment leads to community protest

Posted on Sep 23 2016 - 11:05am by Clara Turnage


After nearly five hours of occupying the Lyceum on campus, the UM NAACP finally got an answer from Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter.

More than 100 students attended the occupancy, including the president of the Associated Student Body, Mr. and Miss Ole Miss, as well as numerous members of other student campus groups like Pride and Students Against Social Injustice.

Vitter released this second statement around 7:40 p.m.

Chancellor Vitter statement concerning meeting with UM students

This afternoon I learned that a number of students had gathered at the Lyceum to express their concerns about a recent social media post and our response to it. Because I have an open door policy, I invited some of the student leaders to meet with me and other university leaders. The students helped me more fully understand the impact on them of national events and this particular social media post. They expressed great pain, sadness, and concern for their own safety.

To be clear, we condemn the recent social media post by one of our students that referenced lynching. In light of our country’s history, that comment can only be seen as racist, offensive and hurtful, especially to members of our African American community. There is no place in our community for racist or violent acts.

I appreciate the willingness of the student leaders to meet with me and to continue the dialogue. Together, we are committed to moving beyond words toward action, harnessing the transformative power of education to realize the ideals of our Creed.

UM NAACP Communications Director Makala Magyar said she felt that much had been accomplished today, but there is still a lot left to do.

The Daily Mississippian will continue to report on this story as it develops. 

See @thedm_news on Twitter for more live coverage of Friday’s protest. 

 4:35 p.m. (and previous)

Some Ole Miss students are angry that Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter’s statement about social media didn’t address Facebook comments from student Jordan Samson that went viral last night.

“Don’t you (removed explicative) dare sugar coat racist white threats. I do not feel safe on this campus. Do you even care?” tweeted sociology major Dominique Scott. “Does my Black life matter to you? Or my Black history? YOUR Black history.”

Samson commented on a post about the riots in Charlotte, North Carolina, with an allusion to lynching, saying “I have a tree with room for all of them if you want to settle this Wild West style,” in reference to the protesters. NY Daily News reporter Shaun King took a screen shot of the comment and tagged the official Ole Miss account.

Samson, a business major, has since deleted or deactivated his Facebook account.

Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter released a statement through the UMToday portal:

The university leadership and I are aware of recent comments made on social media that have generated concern by members of the Ole Miss community.

Some of these comments were made in response to the enforcement of stadium rules prohibiting banners and signs from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium this past Saturday. Many of these comments are factually inaccurate. Banners and signs were removed only within the stadium, according to our longstanding policy that prohibits signs, banners, umbrellas, and other items that block the view of fans.

Some social media comments suggest or condone actions that are inconsistent with our core values, our university Creed, and, in some cases, encourage action in direct violation of university policies.

The University of Mississippi condemns the use of language that might encourage or condone violence. Instead, let’s be respectful and civil in our discourse, as called for inThe Creed.

The safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors is our top priority. Any concerns about the health and safety of any faculty, staff, or student should be reported to the University Police Department at 662-915-7234.

The statement, while addressing the comments made on social media about the removal of protesters’ signs in the Vaught Hemingway stadium a week ago, does not mention Samson or the comments he made.

University NAACP President Tysianna Marino said the ease with which the student referred to something historically used to dehumanize African-Americans was disgusting. Marino said the NAACP will respond if the university “allows this to go unpunished.”

“At the moment we just want to know what the university is going to do,” Marino said. “If they do nothing, we will absolutely respond. We’re going to give the chancellor the opportunity to respond.”

Andrew Soper, whose post Samson commented on, deleted the post after it drew attention.

“I don’t condone any kind of language or comment like that at all. I condemn it,” Soper said. “It shouldn’t be tolerated.”

Soper said he moderates the comments on his post as best he can but can’t always keep up with everything that’s being said.

“I put my personal beliefs on my personal Facebook,” Soper said. “I can’t stop anybody from commenting on posts.”

Soper said he deletes comments or posts that he feels are unacceptable.

Samson was removed from the Sigma Chi fraternity last year because of an unrelated incident.