More Controversy at Ole Miss … er, the University of Mississippi.

Ben Jones called my attention to something going on at Ole Miss, and I thought I’d take a look. What I found was very interesting. There’s commentary here.

What do you make of this?

9 thoughts on “More Controversy at Ole Miss … er, the University of Mississippi.

  1. jfepperson August 5, 2014 / 10:57 am

    I learned of the plantation-era origin of “Ole Miss” only several years ago.

    It is their business what to informally call their school. (Around here—Ann Arbor—we just refer to “the U.”) And “Ole Miss” does have a long history, especially associated to the athletic teams. But so did waving the CBF and playing “Dixie”. They have to decide what to do, and they don’t really have a good set of choices, because no matter what they do, a large block of folks they don’t want to offend are going to be upset. My personal opinion is that they should have the courage to step away from this part of their past. Mississippi needs to get out of the 19th Century in many ways; perhaps the University can be a leader by example here.

  2. Christopher Shelley August 5, 2014 / 11:05 am

    It looks like a thoughtful attempt at self-examination, especially on the subject of race. It appears that “Ole Miss” is a legitimate (ie., not racist) nickname; perhaps not so professional on email, but context is everything. Am I missing something?

  3. Ben Jones August 5, 2014 / 2:54 pm

    Hi jfepperson

    I fear someone was b.s.ing you about the plantation-era origin of “Ole Miss”. I’ve
    been talking to a number of Mississippians and that say it was always just a nickname for
    the University in Oxford.
    You say that “Mississippi needs to get out of the 19th century in many ways”. Don’t you understand the condescension of that statement? The last time I looked, people were moving South in droves from Michigan. Oxford, Mississippi is a delightful and hip town, with one of the best book stores
    in the country. On the other hand, Detroit is falling apart. You know the old saying, “people who live in glass houses……

    Best,
    Ben Jones

    • James F. Epperson August 5, 2014 / 6:47 pm

      You might want to read my post below. And I’m very disappointed in your attempt to go tar me with Detroit’s troubles. That was beneath you and your position. Detroit is in Wayne County—I live in Washtenaw County.

  4. James F. Epperson August 5, 2014 / 4:51 pm

    As for the possible source of “Ole Miss” with plantation dialect, it is mentioned (with what look to be good footnotes) in the University’s Wikipedia article. I recall reading about it in the Chronicle of Higher Education, many years ago. It is also part of the Uncle Remus stories, apparently.

  5. Brad Griffin August 5, 2014 / 7:00 pm

    I’m planning to be there this weekend.

  6. Andrew Raker August 7, 2014 / 11:47 am

    I applaud the university for most of the plan, but think it’s interesting in how it sets up at division between athletics and the rest of the university. Considering the fall-out after getting rid of Colonel Reb, I can understand the wariness of the university to shed the “Ole Miss” moniker (since they do have to fill the seats, after all).

    I don’t doubt that the “Ole Miss” name has great sentimental value among current students and alumni, but it also affects how outsiders view the university, often with negative connotations. I’ve spoken with friends who competed for or worked with Vanderbilt athletics, and they dreaded the trip to Oxford. Some of it was logistics – our teams would have to stay near Memphis because of a lack of hotel rooms in Oxford itself – but it also has the reputation from its racist past. I don’t think that Mississippi State or the Alabama schools have that same image today, even though Percy Wallace got very similar treatment at each of them when he was playing on the SEC’s first integrated basketball team (a team that went 5-1 against Ole Miss). The University of Mississippi has a unique burden among southern universities, it seems to me, and the Ole Miss name might be a significant factor in that.

    Even if the University of Mississippi were to shed all use of “Ole Miss”, however, I’m still sure that Mississippi State fans will continue to use only, still replacing the “M” with a “P”.

  7. Mark Johnson September 20, 2014 / 1:38 pm

    I keep hearing that “Ole Miss” was a name used by slaves for a plantation mistress, but I have yet to see an actual source for that claim. It seems more intuitively obvious that “Miss” is short for Mississippi. Can anyone provide a firsthand source for that claim?

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