University of Mississippi campus police officers lowered and furled the state flag in a Lyceum Circle ceremony Monday morning. The flag will be preserved in the University Archives along with resolutions from students, faculty and staff calling for its removal.
The University of Mississippi student senate adopted a resolution asking administrators to remove the flag. The faculty Senate adopted a similar resolution.
Interim Chancellor Morris Stocks ordered the flag lowered and said it was being sent to the university’s archives.
“As Mississippi’s flagship university, we have a deep love and respect for our state,” Stocks said in a statement Monday. “Because the flag remains Mississippi’s official banner, this was a hard decision. I understand the flag represents tradition and honor to some. But to others, the flag means that some members of the Ole Miss family are not welcomed or valued.”
Thursday Governor Phil Bryant told reporters he did not think the university’s associated student body senate, who voted 33-15 with one abstention to request the removal of the flag from campus, had the “legal authority” to determine whether the flag flies, noting it was a public building.
A few opponents of the effort have asserted public universities are required to display the state flag.
Two sections of the Mississippi Constitution Miss. Code Ann. § 3-3-15 and § 37-13-5 address the display of the state flag at public buildings and schools.
Section 3-3-15 reads: “The state flag may be displayed from all public buildings from sunrise to sunset; however, the state flag may be displayed from all public buildings twenty-four (24) hours a day if properly illuminated. The state flag should not be displayed when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed. The state flag shall receive all of the respect and ceremonious etiquette given the American flag. Provided, however, nothing in this section shall be construed so as to affect the precedence given to the flag of the United States of America.”
According to Section 37-13-13, the state flag “shall be displayed in close proximity to the school building at all times during the hours of daylight when the school is in session when the weather will permit without damage to the flag.”
The section which goes on to state, “It shall be the duty of the board of trustees of the school district to provide for the flags and their display,” does not reference institutions of higher learning in Mississippi.
Check back for more on this developing story.