Committee Reviewing Ole Miss Incident, Response
OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Division of Student Affairs announced today that a review by the Office of the Dean of Students of theelection-night incident that attracted an estimated 400 students has been underway since Wednesday, Nov. 7, as officials collected copies of related videos and social media exchanges and conducted interviews with students and university police officers who witnessed the events.
Simultaneously, student affairs staff solicited and reviewed recommendations from students and faculty regarding both the investigation and possible long-term remedies, established a process for determining the facts about the event, and established a comprehensive plan to review behaviors and expand or add relevant educational programs.
Information collected by the Office of the Dean of Students will be presented to an ad hoc Incident Review Committee comprised of faculty and staff representing a cross-section of the university. Committee members will divide the work of the review in order to deliver the committee’s report expeditiously, with a goal of semester’s end.
The committee may continue its work beyond semester’s end if additional time is needed to ensure delivery of a rigorous review. The committee is charged with evaluating information already collected and any additional information gathered by the committee during the review process. The committee is expected to submit a final report to the vice chancellor of student affairs that establishes the facts of the election night events.
Students identified by the committee as warranting judicial review for possible violations of the student code of conduct will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and the university judicial council, where established procedures for due process will be followed. Any evidence of a criminal violation will be submitted to the university police department and outside authorities.
The committee’s work will be subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), implemented and enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. Among the rules established by FERPA is the right of a student to privacy regarding personally identifiable information, including disciplinary actions. Under FERPA guidelines, the names and identifying information concerning any student disciplined by the university during this review cannot be made public without the student’s permission.
Co-chairs of the committee are Kerry Melear, associate professor of leadership and counselor education, and Leslie Banahan, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs. Committee members representing both faculty and staff include Carol Boyd, Don Cole, Julian Gilner, Susan Glisson, Donna Gurley, Marvin King, Dewey Knight, Charles Ross and Marc Showalter. Others may be added as needed.
In addition to addressing the election night event, other initiatives are underway to evaluate campus culture. The university chancellor is engaging a variety of campus partners in determining what changes might positively impact that culture.