Abolishing the IHL isn’t radical. It’s obvious.
The IHL picked Glenn Boyce — a man whose lack of ideas is superseded only by his lack of qualifications for such a tumultuous time — as chancellor for a very simple reason: he’s a great lackey. This is the same reason Larry Sparks was picked as interim chancellor and why Jeff Vitter was our last full-time chancellor.
Let’s look at just a few issues this university has faced in recent months.
One student brutally murdered another. Obvious racism is put on a literal pedestal. (Yes, alumni, the statue is extraordinarily racist; to explain this again would be to slam my head against a brick wall.) Enrollment is declining. Students caused national embarrassment yet again when they posed with guns in front of a bullet-ridden marker dedicated to Emmett Till.
In these turbulent times, the IHL deemed that one of its own should captain the ship. His plan? He doesn’t have one. He still has “so much to learn” first. It’s disgusting.
I’ve reported on city and county governments in Mississippi for years. There’s a unique system of government in the state: the good-old-boy model. Athens was a democracy, Rome was a republic and later an empire, and the Kurds in Northern Syria are practicing democratic confederalism.
Mississippi? It’s a confederation of good-old-boy clubs.
Virtually everyone in Oxford knows that Boyce was on the IHL and that it expedited its procedures to make him chancellor.
Fewer people understand the absurdity that the IHL even exists. Board members are appointed by the governor. They “serve” for nine years and make a considerable amount of money off taxpayers. They sit around, pat each other on the head and, in general, act as a leech does to skin.
Our good-old-boy governor picks our good-old-boy IHL board, who then pick a good-old-boy chancellor. It’s in the state’s constitution. If you don’t like this WWII-era practice, you need to pass a constitutional amendment.
Last summer, a city employee tried to coax me by saying I could get drunk with him at the Neshoba County Fair. Another time, a sheriff threatened to cut all contact with my newspaper (not The Daily Mississippian) if we included one mildly critical sentence in a story. These are egregious examples of “good-old-boyism.” They do not compare to what I saw last month, when I attended the “listening sessions” during the chancellor “search.”
To see a group of overpaid bureaucrats sit before the crowd as though they were the king’s court; watch alumni, faculty and students shyly approach the microphone to make suggestions to people they pay, all but curtsying; and see Ford Dye exasperated as he “heard” concerns — the only thing that could make it more shameful was if they ignored all feedback and chose one of their own.
So, yes, it’s time to abolish the IHL. If you live in Mississippi, you pay them to not listen to you. What’s more, they’ve consistently blundered. Recall that they fired Dan Jones (a promising chancellor, so they had to retract the choice) and nearly denied a professor tenure because their feelings were hurt by a tweet. This is, supposedly, an academic institution. You’d think academic freedom would be a concern.
There are plenty of other models for university administration around the country. The best choice is one that gives students, faculty and campus workers direct participation in how Ole Miss is run. These are the people that the IHL has ignored, including the people who know this university.
Ryan Oehril is a senior political science major from Laurel, Mississippi.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article should have said that IHL board members are paid per diem for meetings, not that they receive a salary for their work.