What has fascinated me the most about Ole Miss is the sheer amount of variety in our student experience. As Associated Student Body President, I have had the privilege to witness everything from the innovation of organizations like the Student Activities Association and the United Nations Children’s Fund, to the unwavering resilience of the Ole Miss Vietnamese American Student Association and the Black Student Union. I’ve heard the complaints, the successes, the failures and the humanity of much of the student body, all of which I can’t truly do justice in 400 words.
These are the aspects of UM that I have come to love the most and that I will miss dearly. This campus is bursting at the seams with some of the most authentic and compassionate people in the world. If I am able to make one last request for anyone willing to listen, it would be this: an increased focus on fellowship.
While we still have so much work left to complete in areas like DEI and communication, what has surprised me the most is that this institution, from administration down to students, isn’t emphasizing community. We pride ourselves on being a “UM Family,” yet what do we have to illustrate that notion?
Individually, our communities are robust and flourishing. Imagine then what would happen if there was an increased push for collaboration and intimacy across these groups? What would more partnership between FSL chapter organizations, ASB and multicultural organizations look like? Or tangible ways for classes to engage with each other, such as Senior Picnics or Freshmen Speed Dating? What if, when events occur that challenge the place of minority groups on campus, the UM community affirmed its members rather than forcing those targeted groups to defend their existence?
These are but a small fraction of the methods that can unite this campus community in ways we have not tapped into before. I hope that my ask for fellowship isn’t taken as an indictment, but as recommendations from a has-been on the way out.
The University of Mississippi has invested in me in ways I never imagined, and saying goodbye to it is tough. It really is. But, “The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”
So, one last time, farewell UM, and when we meet again, I can’t wait to meet the new you.
Joshua Mannery is a senior political science major and the outgoing ASB President. Morgan Atkins will take over as ASB President for the 2021-2022 school year.