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Ole Miss Statement: “We Strongly Condemn Behavior”

gfx-they-said-itOle Miss officials are apologizing for the behavior of a group of students that included freshmen athletes at a school play Tuesday night.

At a performance of “The Laramie Project”, some audience members were reportedly using terms like “fag”. The play’s director described their reaction as “borderline hate speech.” The Daily Mississippian reported that the audience included an estimated 20 Ole Miss freshmen football players.  USA Today says athletes from other sports were present including men’s basketball, baseball, golf and track. 

University’s Chancellor, Dan Jones, and Athletics Director Ross Bjork issued this statement this afternoon.

 

While we work to determine with certainty who disrupted the Laramie Project play, we want everyone within our university community and beyond to know that we strongly condemn the behavior exhibited Tuesday night. As a member of the Ole Miss family, each of us has a responsibility to be accountable for our actions, and these individuals will be held accountable. Our investigation will determine the degree to which any and all students were involved.

As a first step to addressing behavior at the performance Tuesday night, we will meet today with the freshman student-athletes (from various sports) who attended the play and have a dialogue about what happened, about our university-wide commitment to inclusivity and civility, and about the important role they play in representing the university. It is clear that some students badly misrepresented the culture of this university. From there, we will work with Student-Affairs and the Bias Incident Response Team to determine the facts and appropriate next steps.

Incidents like this remind all educators that our job is to prepare our students to be leaders in life during their years on campus and after they graduate from Ole Miss. This behavior by some students reflects poorly on all of us, and it reinforces our commitment to teaching inclusivity and civility to young people who still have much to learn. We will be engaging our student-athletes with leaders on the subject of individuality and tolerance, so we can further enforce life lessons and develop them to their fullest potential.

On behalf of our 22,000 students, our faculty, and our staff, we apologize.

 

The play is based on the murder of Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student who was killed in 1998 due to his sexual orientation.

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