Where the statue stands: justification, presentation and approval still needed

Posted on May 2 2019 - 5:00am by Hadley Hitson

The university is currently working with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) to receive a permit for the relocation of the Confederate monument on campus, which must happen before the proposed move can be submitted to the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning for final approval.

Almost two months have passed since the student body demanded the relocation of the Confederate monument from the head of the Circle to the Confederate cemetery behind the Tad Smith Coliseum through a unanimously passed Associated Student Body Senate resolution. Yet, the statue remains unmoved.

The Confederate cemetery is south of the Tad Smith Coliseum on campus and is the potential relocation site for the Confederate statue that currently resides on the University Circle. Photo by Katherine Butler.

Because the statue is located in the Circle, which are both Mississippi landmarks, the next step is for MDAH to issue the university a permit before the issue can be brought to IHL.

According to MDAH public information officer Michael Morris, the department has already received a notice of intent to move the monument signed by Ian Banner, the university director of facilities planning.

“MDAH staff will review plans and specifications for the move to ensure that they comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties,” Morris said. “Once the review process is complete, the issue will be placed on the agenda of the Board of Trustees.”

President of the IHL Board of Trustees Shane Hooper said that while IHL is the governing body that must approve the relocation, they have not yet been in communication with the university about the proposed move.

“No agenda items related to the statue have been brought to the Board of Trustees for approval at this time,” Hooper said.

John Chappell, outgoing president of the College Democrats and one of the authors of the ASB resolution to relocate the monument, said he is aware of a justification for the statue relocation that MDAH is working on to prepare alongside university administration.

“There is no specific criteria for what ‘suitability’ means, and so it’s a matter of showing why the cemetery is a more suitable location,” Chappell said. “That’s a collaborative process between the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the university’s administration.”

Chappell said there is still a lot of work to be done by the university, MDAH and IHL before the relocation can come to fruition, but there is not much else students can do besides advocate to IHL.  

“The role of the student body, regrettably, at this point, is not what it was before,” Chappell said. “What remains that is within the access of your average student or community member here is advocating to IHL to the extent that that is possible.”

Katie Dames, outgoing ASB Senator and another author of the ASB resolution, said she and the other authors have met with Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks to discuss the specifics of this process moving forward, something the authors were especially concerned with considering that many of them are either graduating or studying abroad in the coming year.

“Even though the resolution is out of the hands of ASB, this is something we, (the authors), continue to talk about among ourselves, and it’s something that we’re really interested in keeping going and ensuring happens,” Dames said.  

University associate director of communications Rod Guajardo said in a statement to The Daily Mississippian that there has not yet been any update on their end of the process.