The University of _________________

I wrote this entry once. WordPress ate it. I’m writing it again. But am too frustrated to make it nearly as good as it was the first time. Sorry.

Ah, Ole Miss. For those that haven’t heard, the university administration has removed “From Dixie With Love” from the band’s playlist

This is the latest round in a war that’s been going on since I was in school there, which has seen the Confederate flag (and, really, all flags, after an ill-fated attempt to introduce a new flag with an M) banned from the football stadium and the Colonel Reb mascot barred from the football field. There was even another battle of Dixie when I was in school there, but I forget exactly what happened or who won.

And the annoying thing is, the university administration is at least mostly right. The Confederate flag decision was the right one. They’re arguments about the current Dixie situation are probably right. Colonel Reb I’m less sold on, but I respect the logic. I do think, in the two decades this has been going on, they administration does have the moral high ground.

Which doesn’t make them any less wrong. They may be right in their ideals, but they’re wrong in their approach.

Twenty years ago, right or wrong, Ole Miss had a very distinctive and unique personality. And that character is being gradually stripped away. We play the same music during the game as other schools. We don’t have a mascot on the field. Heck, I’m at the point where I’m even jealous of State’s cowbells. At least that’s something that’s theirs.

If these changes need to me made, they should be just that — changes, not an erosion. Change the things that make Ole Miss distinctive; don’t eliminate its distinctiveness.

This is a university and town associated with Faulkner, with Gresham, with Willie Morris and Larry Brown (and Jesse Holland and David Hitt and Claudia Gray). This is a university that presents itself as one of the South’s premier liberal arts colleges. And yet it lacks the creativity to craft a new identity for itself? I mean, Delta State’s student-created Fighting Okra is a perfect example of capturing the spirit of the New South in an unoffensive way. And we really want to admit that the combined resources available to Ole Miss are no match for a DSU student?

The university is respected. But Ole Miss is loved. The nation will respect the changes. But give Ole Miss alumni something they can love.