After year and a half long process, IHL votes to relocate Confederate statue on Ole Miss campus

Sarah Fowler
Mississippi Clarion Ledger
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The Confederate statue on the University of Mississippi campus will be relocated, a year and a half after students passed a resolution decrying the monument. 

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning voted to approve the measure Thursday morning. 

“The Board of Trustees approved the request from the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi,” said Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., Commissioner of Higher Education s in a release immediately issued during the meeting. “He and his team devoted considerable time and attention to developing a thoughtful plan to relocate its Confederate Monument to the University Cemetery."

The statue will be moved from its current location near the university's administration building to the cemetery located on campus. It was erected in 1906, more than 40 years after the end of the Civil War. In May, the words “spiritual genocide” were spray-painted on the monument along with red hand prints. 

Amid public outcry and debate, confederate statues around the country have toppled in recent weeks. Some, like the statue on the Ole Miss campus are being taken down by officials while others are coming down at the hands of protesters. 

"The Board reviewed the detailed plans for the new site, considered events on college campuses across the South involving Confederate monuments, and listened to the University's various constituency groups," said IHL Board President Ford Dye. "The Board subsequently determined relocating the Confederate statue to be most appropriate for Ole Miss moving forward."

In a letter to the university community Thursday afternoon, Chancellor Glenn Boyce credited the students who first passed the resolution in 2019. 

"While many played a role in this process, it is important to recognize the group of students who reinvigorated this discussion, researched the issues, and developed proposals for relocation," Boyce wrote. "They demonstrated the type of leadership that is a hallmark of our students. We also recognize the important support that came from student, faculty, staff and administrative governing bodies as well as several alumni and university foundation boards."

This Feb. 23, 2019 photo shows the Confederate soldier monument at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss. The University of Mississippi's leader says he agrees that a Confederate monument should be shifted from its current spot on campus. Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks said in a Thursday, March 21, 2019, statement that he is consulting with historic preservation officials on relocating the statue.

History of the proposal to relocate Confederate statue

In February 2019, the Associated Student Body Senate for inclusion and cross-cultural engagement passed a resolution saying, "Confederate ideology directly violates the tenets of the university creed that supports fairness, civility, and respect for the dignity of each person."

Less than a week later, the resolution unanimously passed. 

In an email to students in August, then-Ole Miss Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks said, "We are following the steps necessary for successful relocation and will maintain steady and committed progress to accomplish this relocation. I reiterate that this will place the monument in a more suitable location, one that is commensurate with the purpose that is etched on its side."

In December, after unanimous approval by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Boyce emailed students, saying, "with MDAH approval in hand, we will move forward."

Timeline for Confederate statue relocation

Feb 28 2019: The Associated Student Body Senate for inclusion and cross-cultural engagement passes a resolution saying, "Confederate ideology directly violates the tenets of the university creed that supports fairness, civility, and respect for the dignity of each person."

March 5:  The ASB votes to relocate the statue to the on-campus Confederate cemetery. The resolution passes 47-0. 

March 20: The university submits a letter of intent to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

April 2: The university completes a review meeting with MDAH.

June 3: The university contracts with a firm to develop necessary plans.

Aug. 27: The university completes the relocation and placement plans and drawings and submits relocation and reinstallation plans to MDAH for consideration.

Dec. 6: The Mississippi Department of Archives and History unanimously approves the move.

Jan. 16, 2020: At its January board meeting, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning planned to vote on the issue, but ended up pulling the item from its agenda.

In this June 1, 2020 file photo, a tarp covers part of a Confederate monument on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford, Miss. The monument will be moved from the prominent spot at the university to a Civil War cemetery in a secluded part of the Oxford campus.

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Contact Sarah Fowler at 601-961-7303 or Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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