Editorial: The University of Mississippi Needs To Get Over The Flag
The University of Mississippi has recently made a strong stance by removing the Mississippi state flag, yet some fans and students just can not let it go.
Whipping in the winds of Oxford, MS is a flag bearing the 50 stars representing the 50 states in the Union. This brightly colored flag is revered by many around the world.
Up until September 2015, a flag bearing the 13 stars representing the Southern confederate states was flying on the campus of the University of Mississippi.
The Mississippi flag is the only state flag in the United States to bear the flag of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, or as more commonly known as the confederate flag.
Due to this, the University of Mississippi decided to remove the flag from campus earlier this year. The University’s decision was followed by multiple institutions of education in the state. The sole public university in the state flying the flag is Delta State University.
Despite the University’s wishes to remove the flag from the campus and from the state, fans and students are still fighting among each other over a 12’x18′ piece of cloth.
One example of this is the Our State Flag Foundation. The foundation was created with the intent to fight for the flag to continue flying around the state of Mississippi.
Our State Flag Foundation was established by students, alumni, and concerned Mississippi citizens in November 2015 with the main intent to return the state flag flying again to all public universities in the State of Mississippi.
The foundation has made waves around campus as students and fans have been seen wearing stickers and buttons representing the foundation. The foundation had their initial meeting a few weeks ago on campus.
— Will Pomeroy (@realwillp) September 8, 2016
This issue has taken the campus by total storm. From the Our State Flag Foundation to fans and students who oppose the flag, the tension around campus is building.
Ole Miss vs Alabama –
Ole Miss played a football game with the University of Alabama in which they lost 48-43. But outside the football game, students around campus tried to make a statement during the game.
This game was obviously chosen for the gesture due to its popularity and media coverage. Before the game began, the Mississippi state flag was unfurled above the student section.
This gesture by the student section is one that violates the Stadium Policies set by the University.
Banners may not be hung and poles may not be brought into Vaught-Hemingway except those approved by Ole Miss Event Management.
The reason for this rule is to not obstruct the view of fans around you, a rule that is one of the better regulations that the school has put into effect.
The University was reportedly removing state flags, confederate flags, and signs supporting the band playing Dixie.
Is the University becoming an authoritarian state?
The Argument for Free Speech –
The state itself should not ban or forcefully remove a flag or silence an individual who expressing his rights. Either all speech is free or no speech is free.
But the unfurling of the state flag in the student section does not represent one individual, but a group of students and fans around the state.
Flying the state flag in the student section is saying that the University of Mississippi agrees with it.
Removing the flags and signs from students was the correct move on the University’s part. It is called public relations, something that Ole Miss has needed to improve on for years.
A football game is not the place for a political display, from either side of the argument. The University itself is making a statement that it will not tolerate political displays during athletic events. As a student of the University, I hope they continue this trend.
There is a time and a place for these type of gestures and arguments, and in the public eye during a football game is not the place.
Why Does the Flag Matter?
Many supporters of the flag argue that the flag does not have any racial connotations or that the flag represents a Southern lifestyle.
Opposers of the flag argue that the flag is a symbol of hatred and a bastion of racism after the flag was adopted by organizations such as the Klu Klux Klan and other Neo-Nazi organizations.
The University is being dragged through the mud by the media and its own students over this situation. From being labeled as unethical to being called insensitive, the school can not get out of its own way.
To outsiders, the flag conjures up images of a time that does not represent the current environment of the University. Such as the following image, which is the flag draped over a fake lynching.
When the outside world sees the flag being unfurled in the student section, it brings up images of a foreign time where hate was the norm and commonly accepted by many.
While we can not force the state to change the current flag, we can support the University’s decision to not fly the flag on campus.
Let us show the world that we as a University and as a student body can behave ourselves when subjected to the public eye. Let us all show how accepting this University can be, for those of all beliefs.