The Debate Over Confederate Monuments Spreads to the University of Mississpppi

Student government organizations at the¬†University of Mississippi have called for a Confederate soldier monument to be moved from its prominent spot on the Ole Miss campus to a Confederate cemetery in a more secluded area on the university’s campus.

On March 5, the Associate Student Body Senate at Ole Miss voted unanimously on a resolution asking university administrators to move the statue. The Graduate Student Council also recently approved a similar resolution. Currently, the monument stands in a park-like setting near the white-columned Lyceum, the main administrative building on campus. Both student groups believe the statue undermines the university’s mission to be inclusive. The proposed new location, the Confederate cemetery, is on a remote part of campus and houses the graves of Confederate soldiers killed at the Battle of Shiloh.

“This is not a political issue. This resolution is about respect, and this resolution is about humanity,” said senior Jarvis Benson, president of the Black Student Union at the university.

The statue itself has previously been a site of political activity. Last month, pro-Confederate groups from outside the university rallied at the statue. Students held a counterprotest at the same time. The university’s basketball players knelt during the playing of the national anthem to protest the activities of the pro-Confederate groups. In the past, the monument served as a rallying point for people who opposed court-ordered integration of the university.

Larry D. Sparks, interim chancellor of the University of Mississippi, issued a statement that said the administration appreciated “the thoughtful and deliberate consideration that the student groups have given to formulating, debating, and passing their resolutions recommending relocation of the monument.” However, he added that “In order to relocate the monument, the university would need to submit an agenda item to the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi State Institutions of Higher Learning for consideration. Prior to that, the university would need to develop its justification that the cemetery is a suitable location, as required by the statute, and consult with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History due to the landmark status of the monument.”

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