PLUNKETT: Live By The Sword . . . Petition Turns Table On Vitter And Bjork At Ole Miss

By Keith Plunkett | July 30th, 2017 at 6:20 am

BY: Keith Plunkett / Managing Editor

Keith Plunkett is the Policy and Communications Director for the United Conservatives Fund, and the Founder and Publisher of MississippiPEP.com.

Filed Under: Contributor, Culture, Feature Stories, History, Keith Plunkett, Mississippi, Mississippi PEP, Ole Miss, Opinion, Oxford, State Flag

“Ole Miss is better than this. Ole Miss should expect better than this.”


A petition launched 6 days ago on the website Change.org is turning the tables on Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Althletic Director Ross Bjork for advocating for so-called “improvements to Ole Miss’ image,” while refusing to act decisively in response to incidents that calls into question the commitment to student safety, and the character example of coaches, faculty and staff.

VITTER SHOWS NO CONCERN OVER SEXUAL ASSAULTS

Two sexual assaults occurring within a week were reported in the final days of March. Many petitioners point out Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter’s lack of response to the assaults as a reason they added their signatures.

There was a report of a sexual assault at a fraternity party at the Alpha Tau Omega house on March 24. Then on March 31, a woman leaving a party on Fraternity Row was attacked causing Ole Miss Campus Police to intensify patrols on and around Fraternity Row.

“I cannot stand for a man who blatantly ignores and denies a serious situation regarding a student,” Megan Suprenant of Oxford said of Vitter. “If he cannot address serious matters on our campus because they will tarnish his image or his paycheck that is not qualities we want in a chancellor. For as serious as a sexual assault case to not only be reported to the student body weeks after it happens but also to not reach out to this student and make sure she is okay is just disrespectful and not doing his job to keep us safe.”

POLITICS OF SHIRKING RESPONSIBILITY WITH NCAA LED TO NUTT TAKING DOWN FREEZE

AD Bjork has been at the center of a controversy that claimed the job of Rebel Football Coach Hugh Freeze last week after the school was sued by former coach Houston Nutt. Nutt was responding to what he said were libelous statements from Freeze and others, suggesting infractions being investigated by the NCAA were problems left over from Nutt’s tenure as coach. Phone records acquired by Nutt’s attorney in the case revealed that Freeze had made at least one call to an escort service on his university issued phone.

After Freeze resigned, Bjork said the phone records revealed a larger pattern, and that Freeze admitted to the conduct before offering his resignation.

FROM OLE MISS WITH …

Of course, another issue with respect to both Vitter’s and Bjork’s tenure at Ole Miss is the systematic removal of traditional symbols, music and merchandise connecting the school to Southern culture and heritage. This goes on while accusations of racism are lobbed at supporters of tradition to initiate chaos, further erode relationships and to create a double standard.

Consider the curious case of Dominique Scott.  In one instance, Vitter attempted to appease Ms. Scott by condemning another’s actions publicly, leading to his withdrawal. Ms. Scott conducted a blistering social media campaign. Her verbal victory over the Chancellor emboldened her and inspired others and led to the eventual vandalism of the property of 3 white students.

All this was occurring while Ms. Scott was about to be honored with the ‘Phenomenal Woman Award’ at the Third Annual Women’s Empowerment meeting in observance of Women’s Month hosted by the Ole Miss Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, E.S.T.E.E.M., Ole Miss Athletics – Student Athlete Development, Ole Miss Panhellenic, Ole Miss Student Housing, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Meek School of Journalism and New Media, the University Lecture Series, the UM Career Center, and the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies.

Scott, however, remained enrolled as a student and was still given the award even after new complaints were registered with Chancellor Vitter’s office and the Center for Inclusion and Diversity regarding a Twitter comment Scott posted threatening violence against “white people” following Donald Trump’s election as president..

FROM DIXIE WITH …

Under Bjork’s directive, the seventy-year tradition of Ole Miss’ Marching Band, ‘The Pride Of The South’, performance of the song ‘Dixie’ was also discontinued.

“We felt that it’s the right thing to do. It’s time to move forward,” Bjork said in a 2016 interview. “It fits in with where the university has gone in terms of making sure we follow our creed, core values of the athletic department, and that all people feel welcome.”

Bjork didn’t elaborate but it can be presumed that the people he refers to are neither those who love and appreciate Mississippi culture and history, nor are they as likely to be Mississippians as in previous years. The school has been attracting more out-of-state students each year. One reason: money. In-state resident tuition is currently $7,644, non resident tuition is $21, 912.

 

The effort to gather petition signatures is nearing the goal of 1000 names as of this writing, needing only 66 to surpass the mark. The petition and signatures will be mailed to the Ole Miss Athletics Department and to Governor Phil Bryant.

Read the full petition summary below or CLICK HERE to add your signature and comments.

Petition · Ole Miss Athletics 908 All-American Drive P.O. Box 1848 University, MS 38677 : Its time to fire Jeff Vitter and Ross Bjork · Change.org

Following tonights breaking allegations and past improprieties, it is time for a cleaning of house at our university. The time has come to immediately fire Athletic Director Ross Bjork for his lack on control over the athletic department. But the buck should not stop there. It is also time for state authorities to immediately ask for the resignation letter of Chancellor Jeffery Vitter.

Over the last year we have been lectured to by Chancellor Jeff Vitter and the athletic director Ross Bjork about the changes needed around our university to improve our athletic program and the schools “image”. However what these men failed to do was supervise their own staffs in running these programs, which has lead the university into its current state of affairs. This repeated failure of leadership has lead to the universities football program facing a lack on institutional control charge by the NCAA, as well as a major embarrassment to the image of Ole Miss that occurred last night and will only get worse when they appear before the committee on infractions.

It is under the leadership of these two men that our great university has been publicly embarrassed, and pending the outcome in our NCAA case faces a long road to recovery. These men represent the highest level of hypocrisy. They spent all of their time the last several years lecturing student, alumni and supporters about the need for change in the traditions and values of our university. Instead of trying to change everything our great university stands for it may have benefited them to embrace the traditions that made Ole Miss the great place it was. As Ross Bjork said in his press conference they are the leaders of the university, and everyone should be held accountable. They both have failed to elevate this university to the next level, temporary success’s are great, but the current state of the program as well as the information still coming out suggest a very long road to recovery.

Everyone in power at Ole Miss knew this collapse was coming. So lets place blame where blame is due. Hugh Freeze gave this school some of the greatest moments in its history and took the program to heights it had never seen before, and he should be thanked for that, he showed what Ole Miss is capable of becoming. The blame for this years long mess does not fall squarely on his shoulder and it shouldn’t. Therefore, blame should be placed equally. Chancellor Vitter and Athletic Director Bjork should not be exempt or seen as self righteous for what occurred last night, they are simply covering for themselves. Coach Freeze would have been fired had he not resigned, spin will not change this fact. Ole Miss is better than this. Ole Miss should expect better than this. With a tradition and town unlike any other and some of the greatest alumni, students, and supporters you can find this school will rebuild. And glory will be restored. But not as long as we continue down this path.