An Ole Miss frat is in danger of being labeled as racist in light of an explosive prank played. Students from the Alpha chapter of Sigmi Phi Epsilon at the University of Mississippi were discovered this week to be responsible for hanging a noose around the neck of one of the statues on campus. The statue was of James Meredith, the first black student ever allowed into the school.
Police learned that the act of vandalism was committed by the Ole Miss frat members several days after the incident. They quickly turned their attention to questioning the three freshmen, whose names have not yet been released. All three students are 19 and from Georgia. Besides the noose, they are also believed to be responsible for placing a Georgia flag displaying the confederate symbol on the statue. Now the FBI has gotten involved and the young men have all obtained legal council.
Friday, Sigmi Phi Epsilon decided to suspend the Alpha chapter at Ole Miss. The allegations that their fraternity might be racist was something they did not want to give even the slightest hint of. All of the students have been expelled from the fraternity as well. The concern of investigators is whether or not more may have been involved in the racially charged display. It could point to a larger problem of racism at Ole Miss.
Sigmi Phi Epsilon CEO Brian C. Warren Jr. had this to say regarding the incident, “It is embarrassing that these men had previously identified with our Fraternity. SigEp as a national Fraternity has championed racial equality and issues on diversity since 1959 when it became the first national fraternity to invite members of all races, creeds and religions to join its membership. For this to occur in 2014 is an insult to the legacy of James Meredith, The University of Mississippi community, and the SigEp alumni who fought for racial equality in the late 1950s.”
Another incident involving a black student and racial obscenities took place around the same time as the statue defacing. Senior Kiesha Reeves reported to authorities that she was walking through an area of campus where many Ole Miss students are housed, when someone began shouting racial slurs at her.
Racial tension at the school is not a new thing, but many were hoping it was something of the past. James Meredith, the man who the statue is in honor of, attempted to enter Ole Miss in the fall of 1962. Governor Ross Barnett attempted to prevent his entry into the school, but the supreme court ruled that he would be allowed. U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent 500 Marshals to protect Meredith, who would eventually graduate as a political science major.
Interestingly, Meredith has never approved of the statue. He feels that it is a slap in the face to his beliefs. Now 80 years-old, Meredith told reporters, “It’s a false idol, and it’s an insult not only to God, it’s an insult to me,” however he also condemned the actions as “nonsense”.
Do you think the vandalism done to Meredith’s statue is enough to consider this Ole Miss frat racist?