Ole Miss Confederate monument: Sparks releases first statement ahead of faculty senate, Staff Council votes

Posted on Mar 7 2019 - 1:46pm by Hadley Hitson and Daniel Payne

Updated: 7:20 p.m. Thursday

The university faculty senate passed its resolution calling for the relocation of the Confederate monument in the Circle to the Confederate cemetery on campus with a unanimous vote at a special meeting tonight.

This is the third out four campus government organizations to call for the monument’s relocation. The fourth organization, the Staff Council, is currently voting on a similar resolution by email.

Updated: 1:30 p.m. Thursday

Earlier today, Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks made his first comments since neo-Confederate groups rallied around the Confederate statue on campus two weeks ago. Since that weekend, two student government organizations passed resolutions calling for the relocation of the university’s divisive monument to the Confederate cemetery on campus.

“We appreciate the thoughtful and deliberate consideration that the student groups have given to formulating, debating, and passing their resolutions recommending relocation of the monument,” Sparks’s statement read.

Read coverage of the on-campus Confederate rally and basketball players’ protest here.

The statement also clarified that to actually relocate the Confederate monument, the university must submit the proposed move as an agenda item to the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees for its approval.

File photo by Taylar Teel

In the statement, Sparks did not say whether or not he supported relocating the monument.

Because the monument is considered a state landmark, Sparks said the university would meet with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to develop justification for moving the statue to the cemetery before submitting the request to the state college board.

The Graduate Student Council Senate was the first campus government group to pass a resolution calling for the university to move the statue from the Circle on Monday. The Associated Student Body Senate passed its resolution unanimously on Tuesday after sharing a draft with the student body the week before. This ASB resolution was later endorsed by every faculty member of the history department.

Sparks’s statement comes on the same day the Senate of the Faculty and Staff Council plan to vote on their individual resolutions calling for relocation.

While faculty senate will meet at 6 p.m. to consider its resolution, Staff Council members will vote electronically. President Gazel Giles will send out ballots to the Staff Council via email, and the official vote count should be finalized by Friday morning.

“It’s essentially already been passed,” Giles said. “On March 6, the majority of Staff Council members voted to be in favor of a resolution that supported the relocation of the Confederate statue.”

The Staff Council drafted its resolution following this initial vote to gauge opinion.

Giles said she and several other Staff Council members will meet with Sparks at 2:30 p.m. today to discuss the relocation of the statue.

“We are very passionate about this issue,” Giles said. “We just took more time to discuss it and understand the thoughts of the entire staff because the council does represent over 2,000 people on this campus.”

The Staff Council serves as an advisory group to the chancellor in issues that affect university progress, and its executive board meets with the chancellor monthly.