OXFORD, MS (Mississippi News Now) - When you hear Ole Miss, what comes to mind? That's a question up for debate as the University of Mississippi takes steps to put this endearing nickname in its proper place. The move could strike a nerve with some fans who worry it'll forever change the face of this deep south university.
Terry Warren is the owner of Rebel Rags. It's all things Ole Miss. Even Colonel Reb hangs around. He says any type of change would prove difficult.
"This is Ole Miss since I was a boy and I think it will always be that way until the day I'm gone," said Warren. "All I can tell you is we are the Ole Miss Rebels."
That's a nickname University Chancellor Dan Jones wants to keep, but in perspective. Recently the chancellor released an action statement based on recommendations made by consultants and from members of the sensitivity and respect committee.
It says, "We recommend that the university consider the implications of calling itself "Ole Miss" in various contexts.
"We feel like our past requires us to take a leadership role-moving forward," said University Spokesman Danny Blanton. "The discussion on racial reconciliation and on diversity, on inclusion and we're committed to doing that."
Chancellor Jones says a review shows the vast majority of students and alumni love the nickname. He goes on to say some faculty members prefer the using the University of Mississippi because it's more formal.
Some express concern about it's origin, believing that the term is racist.
"I always thought Ole Miss meant small and Miss means Mississippi, said Ray Chaniche. "No racial overtones at all."
"I think it will be a sign that we're moving forward," said Dell Hatch. "We're not forgetting the past. We need the past. We need that rich history that that name instills."
Look for a name change on some streets including Confederate Drive. As for Ole Miss vs. University of Mississippi, Chancellor Jones says a plan will be formed to provide guidance on best uses of those terms.
He says "Ole Miss" is strongly associated with athletics and the broad spirit of the university and "the University of Mississippi" is strongly associated with the academic context.
The chancellor adds that the affectionate term "Ole Miss is and will continue to be an important part of our national identity."
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