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Notes on the Confederate Memorial lawsuit: What, exactly, does the University say it is going to do?

The lawsuit was in response to the university’s “Action Plan on Consultant Reports and Update on the Work of the Sensitivity and Respect Committee”. While the Sons of Confederate Veterans allege that they were unable to see this plan (implying it was some sort of secret), it is readily available online. Here is the University press release announcing it.

Only a few paragraphs relate in any way to the lawsuit:

Decisions made in the city of Richmond, VA, offer an enlightened example for us. Without attempts to erase history, even some difficult history, and without removing existing statues and building names, the city has moved toward balancing the way its history is represented by offering context for symbols and adding meaningful new symbols. Some of this kind of work began on our campus with the erection of the Meredith statue. Further opportunities lay ahead.

The new vice chancellor will be charged with the long-term management of this recommendation. Until that selection is complete, the Provost and the Assistant to the Chancellor for Multicultural Affairs are charged to lead this effort.

They also should initiate an effort to provide contemporary context for some of our existing symbols and names, which are too often viewed as an endorsement of ancient ideas. Any and all symbols and buildings may benefit from this, but some to consider in the early stages include Vardaman Hall, the ballroom in Johnson Commons, and the Confederate Statue. This might be done in a number of ways, including accompanying plaques that provide context and an educational opportunity for students and campus visitors who are interested in our history.

So, they’re looking to the experience of Richmond, which dealt with similar issues, “[w]ithout attempts to erase history, even some difficult history, and without removing existing statues and building names…”  What the report suggests is that the university “initiate an effort to provide contemporary context for some of our existing symbols and names, which are too often viewed as an endorsement…”  It describes some specific things on campus possibly in need of being addressed:

some to consider in the early stages include Vardaman Hall, the ballroom in Johnson Commons, and the Confederate Statue. This might be done in a number of ways, including accompanying plaques that provide context and an educational opportunity for students and campus visitors who are interested in our history.

So, at this point, the only thing the university is considering doing about the statute is an “accompanying plaque and provide[s] context and an educational opportunity….”  Something like a historical marker.  And they are not proposing moving or even altering the monument.

The report then goes on the make two immediate changes:

    • We will move forward with changes to two street names. Coliseum Drive will need a new name when the Tad Smith Coliseum is replaced with our new basketball arena. On a recommendation from the University of Mississippi Alumni Association and the M-Club, at the appropriate time the street currently known as Coliseum Drive will be renamed “Roy Lee ‘Chucky’ Mullins Drive.” The spirit of Chucky Mullins is a great unifying force for our university. A second street name change will extend the use of “Chapel Lane” to the single block on the opposite side of Fraternity Row previously named “Confederate Drive”.

That’s it.  They are going to consider doing plaques to provide some historical context at some places on the campus, and they are going to change the name of Confederate Drive to Chapel Lane the length of its run.

If they’d just gone ahead and done that at the time the original part of Chapel Lane was named, presumably in the 1990s, I doubt anyone would have noticed.

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