Ole Miss Debate: It Doesn’t Matter What You Think To Ole Miss’ Administration


It feels like we have had this conversation before?

I hope to tell you the truth about this whole “tradition” discussion before you get upset or draw some line in the sand or paint yourself in a corner.

It doesn’t matter what you think about the term Ole Miss or its traditions.

The school currently known as Ole Miss is and has always been THE University of Mississippi. A charter for a state university was approved by the State legislature in 1844 and it opened its doors four years later in Oxford, MS.

It was the only comprehensive public university for 110 years in this state. The purpose of this campus is to educate and serve the people (all the people) of this state.

For the last 156 years “Ole Miss” has been the leader in education in Mississippi.

Somewhere along the way students and alumni began to personalize the school; it’s only natural, it happens at every university in every state. Students and alumni begin to gravitate toward certain symbols and images that they collectively feel best represent them as a whole.

Some schools choose Cats or Dogs, our forefathers choose a retired confederate Colonel.

Some say the inspiration for Colonel Reb is actually Blind Jim Ivy, a fixture at football games in the 1930’s and 40’s, who was a blind African-American peanut vendor. But unless you are deeply embroiled in this topic, that fact is lost when you look at an elderly white man named Colonel Rebel. He really does not look like a black peanut vendor.

Much to our dismay, our beloved mascot who we grew up adoring was unceremoniously removed from the sidelines without any plan what-so-ever of how to replace him.  The absence of a mascot, game after game, made it ever more obvious that there is a wide rift between the fans of this school and the administration.

Whether you like confederate soldiers or not is really not the issue. Anyone that looks at the debacle that resulted in a sham election for a Louisiana Black Bear as The University of Mississippi’s mascot would have to say, ‘That might have been a hasty decision.’

The Bear has not been well received. Colonel Reb was removed from the sidelines in 2003 and it took 7 years for the administration to come up with a new mascot. And even now, four years later you can’t buy a bear t-shirt in the student union. No one would buy it if they did.

I have no doubt that the University administration, both the previous and current, love the University of Mississippi and they feel like they are doing what is right for the long term. Hopefully that will prove to be the case at some point.

But don’t think that your opinion will be considered in the matter of symbols and images that represent the University of Mississippi.  The majority of students would still be waving rebel flags if it were up for popular vote.  The majority of students would still be singing “The South Will Rise Again” during games, if it were up for popular vote.

There are some things that we as Alumni and Students must realize prevent the University from being all it could be.

Back at the turn of the 20th century, the students decided to become the ultimate southern school and that is great, if that is all you want to be.

I for one, want more for Ole Miss. I believe that Ole Miss is already a great public university and is as good of a state school that you will find anywhere in the country. But not everyone believes that.

Not everyone will give Ole Miss a chance, because of the state’s history; because of the things that happened here during the civil rights era. Similar events happened all over the south, but since Ole Miss wanted to be THE school of the south, it caught a lot of the blame.

You get the good with the bad.

My point is this. Chancellor Jones will do what he feels like is best for this school and he won’t ask your opinion. You probably won’t have a seat at the table when these decisions are made.

He and the previous Chancellor Dr. Kyahat certainly have conditioned me to expect change and I don’t think they are through updating the school’s image either.

The name Ole Miss and Rebels and even the Bear (we can hope) may all be changed but that doesn’t change me or the school or my degree.

Things will always be updated and improved and modernized at Ole Miss and there is nothing wrong with that. We just happen to be living through the process and it’s hard to take change.

Let’s just hope that this time the administration actually has a plan to improve Ole Miss and not just change something in a reactive manner.

I want the University to become better and that is more important to me than a mascot or a nickname.