An effort to petition the administration of Ole Miss for a full vote of the student body regarding the flying of the Mississippi state flag on campus is growing fast. The petition, launched just over two weeks ago, boasts 1500 student signatures. The petition would need roughly 2,000 signatures, or 10-percent of the total enrollment.
The quick growth of the student movement to return the flag to it’s place on campus stands in stark comparison to the group of 300 students who rallied on campus to have it removed, and the smaller number of thirty ASB Student Senators who voted for the resolution requesting the 121-year old banners removal on October 26.
The “Our State Flag Foundation” was launched two days after the ASB vote by student and Ole Miss ASB Senator Andrew Soper, an outspoken proponent on campus of keeping the flag flying, along with alumnus Jonathan Maki.
Soper and a team of volunteers have spent the past several weekends at football games passing out material and stickers. On game day, the stickers can be seen everywhere amongst the throngs of fans at the Grove suggesting broad support among students, alumni and fans alike.
Meanwhile, opponents of the flag have resorted to personal attacks on social media with the help of some of the staff of the student newspaper, the Daily Mississippian, in an effort to keep most students quiet on the issue.
“All of our work shows a majority of students support keeping the state flag flying on campus,” said Soper. “Some have been reluctant to show that support publicly because they know they will be targeted. But, everyday more students are becoming fed up to the point that they refuse to remain quiet anymore.”
Petition supporter and volunteer Zach Baggat agrees.
“We would easily have thousands more if it were not from the fear the opposition has instilled,” Baggat said.
The Daily Mississippian launched an online poll after the ASB vote. With over 7,000 votes cast support for the state flag was at an astounding 90-percent. Other polling online gained similar results and traditional polling of a broader sample shows the flag is also supported by 43-percent of Democrats across the state.
“Our effort has been met with great enthusiasm,” said petitioner Rob Riley. “I have even had people who are opposed to the flag sign the petition because they didn’t believe the process by which it came down was fair to the student body at large.”