MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Reaction is poring in after The University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism’s namesake received backlash after a social media post.
Ed Meek, who was the school’s PR director for nearly 40 years, is in the middle of his own PR nightmare.
University officials quickly condemned Meek’s Facebook post, in which he expressed concern about fights and declining enrollment while showing pictures of two African-American women on the Oxford Square.
Ole Miss Chancellor Jeff Vitter said, “the photos in the post suggest an unjustified racial overtone that is highly offensive. Ed, I urge you to withdraw your comments and apologize.”
Meeks removed the post Wednesday night.
Thursday, the Will Norton, Jr., dean of the Meek School of Journalism, with faculty standing behind him, released a statement.
“We have heard the calls for the Meek name to be removed from our buildings. We have heard the comments that suggest that response would be too harsh. We are continuing to listen and continuing to respond," Norton said.
He said his department will eventually make a recommendation to the chancellor about keeping or removing the Meek name.
Meek and his wife donated $5 million to Ole Miss for the new journalism school.
The Black Student Union called Meek's comments "sexist and discriminatory" and said that they "perpetuate the racist stigma the university often carries."
Ole Miss leaders organized a student forum Thursday night at Nutt Auditorium.
“The last 24 hours has been incredibly difficult for the university,” Vitter said at the forum.
Vittler was in the hot seat, listening to student’s often emotional reaction to Meek and his comments.
“There are a lot of things we don’t agree on, but being racist is not something we should disagree on,” one student said.
Some students were outraged because the two women in the picture were actually Ole Miss students and felt it took on a racist tone.
Many students argued Meek’s name should be removed from the Ole Miss School of Journalism and New Media.
“If he does apologize and he does feel sorry for what he said, then the school name shouldn’t change. He’s done too many good things for the university,” Ole Miss student Andre Huskey said.
But one of the two women at the center of the controversy doesn’t want his apology, according to a column she wrote in The Daily Mississippian.
Mahogany Jordan, wrote “I relinquish being over-sexualized, scapegoated, and invalidated by anyone. I deserve to feel secure in my skin on this campus and in this town just as my counterparts do."
Meek did apologize for posting the pictures via the chancellor’s Facebook page, and he also said there was no intent to implode a racial issue.