The University of Mississippi — better known as Ole Miss — has announced a wide-ranging action plan that aims to steer away from its image as a racially-divided campus.
Gathering opinions from the entire campus community, University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones released a six-point plan to create a more inclusive culture to students of all backgrounds.
The plan includes adding a vice chancellor of diversity, adding plaques to several structures detailing the campus's history wrestling with issues like slavery and segregation, and straight up changing street names like Confederate Drive to Chapel Drive. (Via WCBI)
"Our unique history regarding race provides not only a larger responsibility for providing leadership on race issues, but also a large opportunity – one we should and will embrace.”
Though certainly a step in the right direction, it remains to be seen whether the changes will have a significant impact on a campus that has been mired with recent racially-charged controversies.
In February — which is "Black History" month — three Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity members were expelled for hanging a noose on the statue of James Meredith, the first black student to enroll at Ole Miss in 1962. (Via WHBQ)
That eventually lead to the University shutting down the Sig Ep fraternity on its campus for good. (Via WREG)
Later in February, CNN reported on another incident where "racial slurs and alcohol were hurled at a black student."
CNN: "Do you think there is a culture of intolerance at Ole Miss?"
STUDENT KIESHA REEVES: "I think people are balancing the old Ole Miss with the new Ole Miss of what they're trying to become."
And a mob of angry students caused a small riot when President Obama was reelected in 2012, shouting racial slurs and burning pro-Obama campaign signs. (Via WMBF)
Still, the college leaders who put this plan in motion aren't expecting a quick fix.
The executive director of the William Winter Institute of Racial Reconciliation — who worked on the committee that made recommendations — told The Clarion-Ledger, Jones "understands there is not a one-time, fix-all solution." He added, "It's a process that will take time and commitment."
One of the big things that will stick around is the school's longtime nickname, Ole Miss, which has roots in plantation slavery. The University conducted a national survey last year and determined that most people were okay with the name, so they'll continue to use it as long as it's in the "appropriate context."