/Ole Miss leader agrees Confederate monument should be moved, but political boards in Jackson must sign off

Ole Miss leader agrees Confederate monument should be moved, but political boards in Jackson must sign off

Nonprofit Mississippi News Two Jackson political boards will decide the fate of University of Mississippi’s Confederate Monument. Students, faculty, staff, and administrators all agreed to remove the monument from campus’ heart. Larry Sparks, interim chancellor at the university, said Thursday that he had agreed to join a student-led, faculty sponsored effort to move the monument, which measures 30 feet, from a prominent spot on campus to a Confederate Cemetery about a mile away. Sparks stated in a Thursday statement that “the shared governance process has shown that our campus constituents align, and that we agree that the monument needs to be relocated in a more suitable place.” The monument must be approved by the Boards of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning and Department of Archives and History before it can be moved. For consideration, the university must submit an agenda item for the IHL board, which is the governing body of eight state four-year universities. Officials from the university did not specify when they would submit that submission on Thursday. Although the next board meeting is scheduled for April 19, it is not clear if the board will discuss the matter at that meeting. According to statute, the IHL board could reject the proposed move of the monument. Caron Blanton (IHL director of communications), stated that the Board of Trustees must approve the removal of historical monuments or memorials from university property in accordance to Mississippi Code Sections 37-102-1 and 55-15-81. Governor Phil Bryant appointed all 12 members of IHL’s board of trustees. Phil Bryant was the first governor to appoint all college board members in state history. Bryant, who was a Sons of Confederate Veterans member as recently 2017 has shrugged off questions about his position on the proposed monument’s move. His office didn’t respond to requests for comment Thursday. Students from the University of Mississippi who helped plan the move of the monument praised Sparks’ action on Thursday, and expressed hope that the IHL board would confirm the unanimous decision. John Chappell (a senior at the university) said that the IHL should respect the rights of University of Mississippi students and faculty to make campus-related decisions. “If the IHL refuses to act in accordance to the consensus on campus it will amount to serious violation of university sovereignty.” The university’s Confederate memorial is located in the Circle. This area was designated as a Mississippi Landmark in 2011. It was where James Meredith integrated the university in 1962. To move the monument, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History requires a majority vote of nine members of its board of trustees. Former Gov. William Winter ensured that the MDAH board trustees were self-appointed. William Winter — however, individual nominees for the MDAH board of trustees must first be confirmed by the state Senate. Mark Keenum is the president of Mississippi State University and one of the MDAH trustees. Officials from the University of Mississippi said that they had filed all necessary paperwork with the archives, but noted that the relocation process “will take some time.” MDAH officials didn’t specify when exactly the permit process would be complete on Thursday. Katie Blount (director of the Department of Archives and History), stated that the University of Mississippi has sent a notice of intent to MDAH regarding the removal of Confederate monuments from other sites on campus. “MDAH staff will examine the plans and specifications for the move in order to make sure they conform with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties.” The issue will be put on the agenda by the board of trustees once the review is completed. Contributing: Bobby Harrison