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Ole Miss interim chancellor gives statement regarding Mississippi Stands rally

With the Mississippi Stands march taking place in Oxford and on Ole Miss’ campus on Saturday, the university’s interim chancellor Larry Sparks sent a letter to faculty, staff and students on Thursday about regarding the event.

“The university’s administration condemns racism, bigotry, and hatred,” the letter began. “These concepts run contrary to our values, our principles, and our mission to educate. Our educational mission and our stewardship of this physical campus call us to work toward eliminating prejudice and discrimination. While some may disagree with how this should be done, we remain steadfast in our commitment to this goal.”

On Wednesday the university held a public forum to discuss the march and other topics ranging from gun laws and the future status of the confederate monument that is at the center of this weekend’s march that is being put together by the groups Confederate 901 and The Highwaymen.

During the discussion the chancellor’s absence was brought up, though officials in attendance noted Sparks was in Jackson for the monthly board meeting with the Institutes of Higher Learning. Some asked if there would be a statement put out by Sparks or the university condemning the march before Saturday.

At the same time, it is clear that not all of society has embraced this goal or the values that we teach in our university community, which makes the public areas of our campus, like others in the nation, a place where some may choose to express their ideas,” the letter continued. “The United States Constitution gives people the right to express their views, within the limits of the law, even if we find their views offensive and contrary to our pursuits. Safety is our top priority this week, and we remain fully committed to preserving a secure campus environment. All of our policies and laws remain in effect. We have made no concessions otherwise, and we did not change our policies to accommodate any particular group.”

A counter rally scheduled to be held at Ole Miss’ Jackson Avenue Center during the same time as the Mississippi Stands march was canceled by event organizers on Thursday. They cited security issues and the potential for severe weather in the Oxford area on Saturday as reasons for the cancellation.