By Savannah Woods
After Meek School of Journalism and New Media donor Ed Meek’s Facebook post went viral Wednesday, Meek School faculty and administration called for an open forum. Faculty said they saw the cries of students and community members who used words like “bigotry,” “racism” and “hate” in direct response to his post.
On Thursday evening, more than 200 integrated marketing communication and journalism students from the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, as well as faculty and staff members from the University of Mississippi, gathered in Nutt Auditorium to host an open discussion about the comments made by Meek.
UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, who issued a statement to Facebook yesterday regarding the post, first addressed the crowd saying, “We’ve come here today to hear from you. That’s why we’re here.”
Graham Bodie, an expert in the area of nonverbal communication and listening, and Meek School faculty member, facilitated the discussion.
He gave suggested talking points before opening the floor to students.
“Many administration members have voiced that they are committed to listening to the student body and learning from all viewpoints,” Bodie said.
Below are the three questions he asked before handing discussion over to the crowd:
- What does it mean to be a student in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media? Or community member?
- How does this change students lives or community members lives in light of Ed Meek’s post?
- What can be done to productively move forward?
Throughout the discussion, emotions were high as several students spoke out on their beliefs and feelings in reference to Meek’s Facebook status.
“This issue is bigger than his post. Racism at this school has occurred over time and a lot of us feel that his post is another example from a long line of problems that happens on this campus,” senior IMC student Elly Quinton said. “What actions will we take to prevent these messages from happening in the future? We keep saying we do not condone these statements, but when will there be a solution?”
Student Sumayia Young also challenged the university’s stance on the larger issue of addressing racism.
“The will has to be greater than the want,” Sumayia said. “You may want to make a change, but will you?”
The students who voiced opinions stood in solidarity on one issue — Meek needs to face the repercussions of his actions. Many voiced for a call to action.
Students and community members who were not in attendance or able to speak tonight can voice their opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org.