What is the hell is going on at Ole Miss? According to a number of separate reports, racist behavior is happening like crazy there. On Friday the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity was suspended by its national chapter after three brothers tied a noose around the statue of James Meredith, a civil rights hero who was the first African American to attend the once highly-segregated university. At the time, the Mississippi governor aggressively fought against letting Meredith into the school and the U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent 500 U.S. Marshals to take control of the situation in Oxford. It’s an ugly chapter in American history.
The now former SigEp members are being investigated for a hate crime. Via Think Progress:
Ole Miss and local police concluded that the three white 19-year-olds from Georgia were responsible for hanging the noose and plastering an old Georgia flag bearing the Confederate symbol on the statue’s face. The students could face criminal charges, if Ole Miss police get their way, and the FBI is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
The chapter took quick, decisive action to kick the three freshman out. Regardless, the fraternity was suspended by national to conduct it’s own investigation. Via:
The president of the Mississippi Alpha chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon said the very day that chapter members knew the people responsible for the desecration of the James Meredith statue on campus were in their own midst, they voted to kick them out of the fraternity. “I learned about their involvement on Wednesday afternoon. By Wednesday night, the chapter had voted to expel all three, and we reported the information to the university and authorities,” said SigEp president Jeremy Smith in written answers released by the fraternity’s national headquarters.
Meanwhile, the three kids are in deep shit, but of course mommy and daddy made sure they were good and lawyered up. Via News One:
The university tried Friday to question three white students in connection with the vandalism but their attorneys would not allow that to happen without arrest warrants. The three have not been identified.
University spokesman Danny Blanton said Friday the school’s findings have been turned over to the district attorney’s office. Blanton said the university will also proceed with internal disciplinary action through a judicial panel that consists of both faculty and students.
The university is satisfied that the three students under investigation are responsible for the statue’s desecration, Blanton said.
The Ole Miss Alumni Association is offering at $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. University Police Department Chief Calvin Sellers said the reward offer gave police some good leads in the case.
Meanwhile, those who might know the three in Ole Miss fraternity life aren’t speaking up, probably because no one wants to be known as a narc:
Ole Miss will move forward “as soon as possible” with discipline through the university’s student judicial process. That panel, which consists of both faculty and students, could choose sanctions including dismissal and barring the three from campus, Blanton said.
The fact that the students won’t talk to administrators is disappointing, he added.
“We certainly wish they would be forthright and discuss this matter so that we can get to the bottom of it. We want to hear their side. We want to know not just what happened, but why they did it. We want to open a dialogue,” he said.
— Paresh Dave (@peard33) February 22, 2014
It doesn’t stop with the three racist freshman, though. An African-American honors student claims she was the victim of even more disturbing racist behavior. Via KAIT 8:
I was in my backseat, and I heard pipes coming up the road and when I heard them, I heard someone yell ‘you black n—–’,” said Ole Miss senior Kiesha Reeves.Reeves had just walked outside of her home in The Retreat Complex to her car when she said she was caught off guard by two men in a large black shiny pickup truck.“Somebody poured alcohol on me, and I was very upset, and they sped off down the street onto Anchorage Road,” added Reeves.
The police weren’t very helpful at all:
“They said that if they didn’t find them within an hour that I couldn’t press charges, and that they would try to find them but Anchorage Road is out of their jurisdiction,” said Reeves.Still, Deputy Chief James Owens says officers canvassed the area finding no vehicle that fit that description.“We’re actively pursuing this case and we do take this type of incident very seriously,” said Owens.Reeves says she believes the two young men who attacked her are a part of a small minority who are struggling to let go of the old Ole Miss that was once entrenched in racism.“They are fighting with change basically. They‘re not wanting to change, they’re not accepting it so they’re fighting back,” said Reeves.
Both of these incidents aren’t the first or the last times racism has reared its ugly head at Ole Miss. Hell, there was an incident just a year and a half ago that garnered nationwide attention. Still, it needs to be addressed. If it’s true that this abhorrent behavior stems from “those who are struggling to let go of the old Ole Miss that was once entrenched in racism,” that’s beyond disturbing. It’s 2014. The lines of what is and isn’t a hate crime, hate speech, or flat-out harassment is very clear. Despite the obvious racial divisions many Southern good ole boys grew up with, it’s amazing how some can’t seem to face the music that they lost the “War of Northern Aggression” (your term, not ours) over 150 years ago.
Fuck your stupid, intolerant, systemic racist Southern traditions, Ole Miss (and any other Southern colleges that think this behavior is acceptable) and get your shit together. This type of behavior doesn’t belong anywhere near an institution of higher education. Hell, it doesn’t belong anywhere in American society.