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Letter to the Editor

An open letter to Hugh Freeze regarding his response to the election night disturbance

Open Letter to Coach Freeze:

When I saw you had spoken about the events on last Tuesday evening on campus, I was hopeful to see our head coach take the opportunity to condemn those actions/thoughts/words.
Unfortunately, you took the opportunity to condemn student media and the misuse of the word “riot.”
Maybe you were worried it would affect football recruiting. Don’t you think saying “hateful and racist speech is NOT acceptable and here’s what I plan to do about it” would speak volumes to potential student athletes?
Or maybe you didn’t want the name of the university to be tarnished by “a few.” When faced with adversity, I believe a world-class institution should acknowledge the problem and work toward a solution, not worry about semantics of how the event was classified.
I want more from University of Mississippi’s alumni and students. But I expect more from its leaders.
As a leader at our university, you’ve got a unique and large center of influence. It reaches beyond athletes and coaching staff, beyond administration, student and alumni, beyond citizens of Mississippi. What you say matters. To a lot of people.
As a leader at this particular university (which has a racially charged past—and present), you can take this moment to work for change. Here’s a few suggestions: attend a One Mississippi meeting, attend a Mission Mississippi meeting, discuss racial issues in small groups with your athletes, work with the William Winter Institute. Listening, participating, understanding will help you speak to the heart of the issues and work toward real change.
University of Mississippi’s traditions, name/brand, and football team are not part of our creed. But human dignity and civility are. I pray you will stand up for the things we hold dear. For the University of Mississippi to move forward, we need you to.

Julie Pickett
University of Mississippi staff member