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Dropping ‘Dixie’ is another step in the right direction for Ole Miss

Leaders at the University of Mississippi have spent several years taking a hard look at the symbolism affiliated with the school and whether it helps or hurts the image they want to present as a top public university in the South and the nation.

As a result, many alumni and fans have spent years talking about flags, mascots and songs more than they discuss the university’s mission to excel academically, athletically and financially.

The decision to remove all variations of the “Dixie” melody from the Ole Miss band’s marching-season repertoire shouldn’t surprise anyone, nor should it be considered an attack on game-day tradition — the most common argument against changing or removing symbols and songs affiliated with Ole Miss.

We can’t ignore the correlation of the progress Ole Miss has made academically, financially and athletically in the years since the school first started addressing its image with Colonel Reb’s removal in 2003. Some of that progress has been slow-going, and some years have been better than others. But considering the goal of these changes has always been to change the perception of the university shaped by 1962 and reinforced for years by its own divisive symbolism, it’s hard to deny Ole Miss is finally in a position to be positively recognized for its achievements without those achievements being overshadowed by mascots, symbols and songs.

This is yet another step in the right direction.