The University of Mississippi quietly removed the state flag with its Confederate battle emblem from its place of honor on campus Monday morning. Interim Chancellor Morris Stocks waited until after the ceremony to announce that he had ordered the flag sent to the university's archives. The action came days after the student senate, the faculty senate, and other groups adopted a student-led resolution calling for removal of the banner from the Oxford campus, a bastion for Southern elites. "As Mississippi's flagship university, we have a deep love and respect for our state," Stocks said in a statement. "Because the flag remains Mississippi's official banner, this was a hard decision. I understand the flag represents tradition and honor to some. But to others, the flag means that some members of the Ole Miss family are not welcomed or valued."
University police removed the banner from a flagpole that stands in the Lyceum circle, where deadly white riots broke out in 1962 when James Meredith was enrolled as the first black student at Ole Miss. Today's students forced this issue as the governor and most state lawmakers seek re-election Nov. 3. "I think college students react a lot emotionally," Gov. Phil Bryant said after the student senate vote, and he held his ground after the flag was pulled down. "Mississippians overwhelmingly voted in 2001 to adopt the current Mississippi state flag. I believe publicly funded institutions should respect the law as it is written." Ole Miss has struggled with Old South symbolism for decades. Sports teams are still called the Rebels, but the university several years ago retired the Colonel Rebel mascot—a white-haired man some thought resembled a plantation owner. (Read more University of Mississippi stories.)