Ole Miss Chancellor: If chants continue, song will go

JACKSON – University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones said Monday the school’s band will stop playing “From Dixie with Love” if spectators at football games continue a chant that he said “is not healthy.”
Earlier this year, the Ole Miss band shortened the song in an attempt to eliminate the “the South will rise again” phrase that some fans have chanted at the end of the tune, which is a rendition of “Dixie” combined with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” both Civil War era songs.
But Monday, speaking to the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute/Capitol Press Corps luncheon in Jackson, Jones conceded some students continued the chant even after the song was shortened and after he had made the request to stop the chant.
Jones said “the words are associated with resistance to racial integration in the past” and that the phrase “is not healthy to be heard in any environment.”
He said he has been pleased with the support he has received from alumni, student government leaders and the university’s coaches in trying to stop the chant, and views how fans react in this Saturday’s home game against Northern Arizona as determining whether the band will continue to play the song.
“Ole Miss is a warm and welcoming place,” said Jones, who replaced the retiring Robert Khayat as chancellor in July after previously heading up the University Medical Center. “We don’t want anyone to feel unwelcome on our campus.”
He said the chant also does not fit with the status Ole Miss has earned as “a great American public university.”
Khayat’s tenure was marked by efforts to disassociate Ole Miss from much of its Old South symbolism, including an end to the waving of Confederate flags at athletic events. Those changes were considered important in Ole Miss’s securing a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and other national recognition.

Work on economy
Jones told the crowd of about 100 at the Jackson luncheon Monday that Ole Miss, along with the state’s other institutions of higher learning, must work to improve the state’s economic environment.
He cited North Carolina as an example of a state that has progressed with help from the leadership of the University of North Carolina.
“Our university has not only the opportunity, but the responsibility to provide the leadership,” Jones said.
To provide that leadership, Jones said Ole Miss must not sacrifice quality during the tough economic times. To overcome the cuts that already have come as well as those that are likely in the future, Ole Miss must continue to increase its enrollment and impose “modest tuition increases.”
Jones said any tuition increase will be accompanied by programs to help families least able to absorb the increase.
The amount of any tuition increase will be decided by the state College Board, but he said he would prefer a three-year plan of “modest increases.”
He said the increase is needed “to get to the other end of this recession.”

Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@djournal.com.

Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal