Ole Miss chancellor threatens to ban Dixie if South rise again chant doesn’t halt

Chancellor Dan Jones said if University of Mississippi students continue to chant “the South will rise again” during football games, he will have to ask the Ole Miss Band to stop playing “From Dixie With Love.”

“It is my role to listen to the many voices in our Ole Miss community and determine an appropriate course of action,” Jones said in a letter to the student body (see the Opinion section for more).

“Concerned student leaders, administrators, faculty, athletics administrators and coaches, alumni and major donors have called for discontinuing the chant,” the letter said. “I share their view that these words are harmful. They have been used by others in the past to resist racial integration and the progress of civil rights for everyone. Although those who chant may not have bad intent, the words are painful and create an unwelcome feeling for many on our campus, a place widely known for its grace and Southern hospitality.”

The movement to end the chant started nearly a month ago when the Associated Student Body passed a resolution discouraging students from participating in the chant.

Since then the issue has rallied support from the chancellor and faculty senate as well as gained national media attention from the Associated Press and ESPN.com.
Many alumni, donors, coaches, and faculty members expressed their concerns in a university press release.

The DM
11/2/9

Letter from the Chancellor

Every day, I am more impressed with the depth of passion people share for the University of Mississippi, a vibrant and richly diverse community that prides itself on being welcoming and open to all.

That passion extends to our athletics teams, the Grove, the university and all things “Ole Miss.”

When our passions are focused in the same direction, they become powerful. From the Cotton Bowl earlier this year to this presidential debate last fall, we experience amazing successes when we work toward the same goal. However, when our passions are not in sync – when they divide us, as is the case with the chant “The South will rise again” – it is my role to listen to the many voices in our Ole Miss community and determine an appropriate course of action.

Concerned student leaders, administrators, faculty, athletics administrators and coaches, alumni and major donors have called for discontinuing the chant.

I share their view that those words are harmful.

They have been used by others in the past to resist racial integration and the progress of civil rights for everyone.

Although those who chant may not have bad intent, the words are painful and create an unwelcome feeling for many on our campus, a place widely known for its grace and Southern hospitality.

The university must respond.

If the chant continues, I will ask the band to discontinue the music that triggers it to ensure that we do nothing to promote or facilitate the use of these hurtful words.

The trigger for the chant has been the playing of “From Dixie With Love,” a medley many fans cherish as a tradition. In contrast, the chant is a recent phenomenon, not a tradition.

These words are harming our university and members of the Ole Miss community.

Prospective students, including student-athletes, may look elsewhere because they draw wrong conclusions about Ole Miss.

Media reports lead to incorrect perceptions about our university, because many Americans view the chant as backward behavior.

Yet, we have proven time and again that Ole Miss is forward thinking and leading our state in the right direction.

Donors are questioning whether they can support Ole Miss if we, the university leadership, allow the opportunity for this chant to continue.

I am asking that we all focus our passions on doing what is best for Ole Miss.

Stop the chant and bring our amazing energy to bear on the important issues we face now and will face in the future.

I encourage all of us to embrace the great Ole Miss traditions reflected in our Creed: respect for the dignity of each person, and fairness and civility.

With appreciation for the passion you all bring to making the University of Mississippi great,

Daniel W. Jones, M.D.
Chancellor