Friday, June 19, 2020   
Mississippi State places first in nationwide banking case study competition
Mississippi State University placed first in the Conference of State Bank Supervisors 2020 Community Bank Case Study Competition. Mississippi State University, along with 37 teams from 33 colleges and universities in 18 states studied the impact of the Bank Secrecy Act and Anti-Money Laundering (BSA-AML) requirements of community banks. Student teams partnered with a local community bank to examine challenges, associated time and costs and identify potential regulatory reforms. MSU team members included spring finance graduates Juan Benavides of Greenville; Liam Benson of Auburn, Maine; Byron McClendon of Brandon; Jake Mlsna of Starkville; and senior finance major Kirk Wright of Crystal Springs. Their faculty advisor was MSU Assistant Clinical Professor of Finance Matthew Whitledge. Citizens National Bank, based in Meridian, Miss., was the team's community bank partner. Other university finalists included Concordia College, James Madison University, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, and Purdue University. MSU College of Business Dean Sharon Oswald said: "I am so proud of our MSU College of Business Finance students and their advisor Dr. Matthew Whitledge. Our students have brought great recognition to our state and have proven that they can compete with the best across the country."
Popular tap dance band to kick off MSU's upcoming Lyceum Series
They've worked with superstar Beyonce, performed on "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Good Morning America," and have viral videos amassing more than 50 million views. This fall, Los Angeles tap dance band Syncopated Ladies will add another accomplishment to its repertoire as the opening act for Mississippi State's 2020-21 Lyceum Series. Created by Emmy-nominated tap dancer and choreographer Chloe Arnold, Syncopated Ladies will grace Lee Hall's Bettersworth Auditorium stage Nov. 10 for a 7 p.m. performance. Doors open approximately 30 minutes before the curtain rises on all shows scheduled for the university's long-running performing arts program, coordinated by the MSU Performing Arts Committee. "Reserved season seats will not be selected until a few weeks prior to the first performance. This is to ensure we have the most updated social distancing plan to provide the best and safest experience for everyone," said Chris Hawkins, MSU assistant director for student activities.
New Music Building and COVID-19 Business Assistance at MSU
Mississippi State University held a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, June 15, for construction on a new music building north of the university's current band and choral rehearsal hall on Hardy Road in Starkville. MSU estimates that construction on the $21 million, 37,000 square foot facility will finish by the fall of 2021. The new building includes classrooms, a choral rehearsal hall, faculty offices, sound-proof practice rooms, a recording studio, a lecture and recital hall, a student lounge and an administrative suite. The Mississippi State University Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, part of the university's College of Business, has partnered with the recently established Mississippi 30 Day Fund to help small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The center will process initial application reviews for the program to help small business owners receive funding more quickly. The MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach's Peer Review Panel will work together with business college graduate students to help screen applicants. Entrepreneurs that worked with the E-Center to start businesses make up the panel.
Downtown Streatery to help customers feel safer
People in Starkville will soon be able to grab a bite to eat while dining in a parking space. The Starkville Board of Aldermen approved at Tuesday's meeting the concept of a downtown streatery on Main Street. Mayor Lynn Spruill said she hopes city leaders will finalize plans for nine designated parking spaces to be filled with restaurant patrons. She said the streatery will allow restaurant owners to expand their seating on Main Street. The streatery will have tables, chairs and umbrellas set on parking spaces like an outside patio, said Spruill. Restaurant owners in Starkville said while operating their inside dining at 50% occupancy, customers are still hesitant to eat inside during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some Believe Current State Flag Could Have Impact On Economic Development
Whether it's insensitive comments made by an elected official, or a debate on whether to remove Confederate statues and the confederate emblem from the state flag, controversial topics are continuing to emerge in the Magnolia State. These hot topics can concern for business leaders looking to come into the state. "If you care and say you are pro business in Mississippi, I don't see how you can support the present flag," said Jeffrey Rupp, director of outreach at Mississippi State University's College of Business. Rupp served as mayor of Columbus in the early 2000s and said even then, the state flag was a concern for businesses looking to locate in the Magnolia State. "I know when I was mayor and we were competing with other states for industry, they would subscribe to our newspapers, they would go online and see what the TV station was reporting," said Rupp. "This stuff has an impact." Two of the state's top economic development agencies, the Mississippi Development Economic Council and the Mississippi Economic Council, have recently called for new flag due to the impact they believe it'll have on economic development.
Business coalition encourages lawmakers to remove flag
Jordan Miller, who owns two stores in Ridgeland with his wife Katy, noticed that a lot of other businesses have been coming out with statements condemning the current state flag since the conversation resurfaced a few weeks ago. "We realized that there is a lot of commonality between the challenges to societal progress and also the challenges to economic progress," Miller said. "We saw a lot of individual business people and individual businesses coming out and making statements in support of the flag change, but we didn't see something that could have the potential to unify the voice of the entire business community under one clear, simple message, which is retire the flag." Thus, the Mississippi Business for Flag Change Coalition was born. The goal of the Mississippi Business for Flag Coalition is to unify Mississippi businesses through a letter in support of retiring the current flag and send it to every statewide elected official as the display of the Confederate emblem continues to have a negative effect on the state's economy.
Governor Tate Reeves indicates he might entertain a legislative two-flag solution
Recently, the Mississippi Legislature has been discussing various solutions to change the state flag during the last few weeks of the Legislative session. The most recent attempt to provide a resolution to do so, seems to be dead on arrival in the Senate Committee it was referred to. The resolution offered by Sen. Derrick Simmons would allow for the change to be made by Legislature without a vote through the ballot box. Governor Reeves has been insistent that he would not be in favor of the legislature unilaterally replacing the state flag. However, on Thursday during his COVID-19 press briefing Governor Tate Reeves was asked if he would support the idea of two official state flags for those entities who do not wish to fly the current one containing the Confederate Battle Symbol. In his response he indicated that he would entertain the idea. He referenced prior efforts by former Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden and also said he is open to any conversations that can bring forth a solution. "I'm open to having any conversation but I believe strongly that the people of Mississippi should be the ones to do it," said Reeves.
Gov. Tate Reeves says he should have worn mask at funeral
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Thursday that because of the coronavirus pandemic, he should have worn a mask during a funeral a day earlier where hundreds of law enforcement officers gathered to honor a Simpson County deputy sheriff killed in the line of duty. "I did have a mask. It was in my pocket. I should have put it on," Reeves said during a news conference. He was responding to reporters' questions about why he didn't cover his mouth and nose while standing next to the family of James Blair during Blair's funeral in Mendenhall. Public health officials have said for months that masks and social distancing are important ways to try to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus. Reeves said emotions were "very, very high" at the service, and he was focused on supporting Blair's family and law enforcement officers.
Dr. Thomas Dobbs: Oxford at the 'front end or mid-section of significant' COVID-19 outbreak
The Mississippi State Department of Health has identified a cluster of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in Oxford, according to state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. During Governor Tate Reeves' daily COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Dobbs spoke about the increase in cases in Lafayette County over the past week and the report of over 160 University of Mississippi Students who have tested positive but were not being counted in Lafayette County's numbers. "We do think (that Oxford is) on the front end or at the mid-section of a significant outbreak," Dobbs said. "What we've identified so far is that it seems to be related to community transmission and social gatherings and we have linked some patients back, well quite a few patients back, to fraternity rush parties that'll happen in the summer." Current guidelines, according to Reeves' latest executive order, call for social gatherings of no more than 20 people, or 50 if social distancing is possible, at one indoor gathering.
Why are coronavirus cases spiking in Harrison County?
Mississippi's top health officer believes the increase in COVID-19 cases in Harrison County is likely the result of a lack of social distancing in some settings. The county has reported a total of 393 coronavirus cases, and this week surpassed Jackson County for having the most cases in the state's southernmost six counties. Home to Biloxi and Gulfport, Harrison County this week was for the first time in the state's top 10 list of outbreaks. It tied for third in new coronavirus cases from June 8-14, with a total of 41 reported. That's a 13% increase over the previous week. On Thursday, Dr. Thomas Dobbs said the reason behind Harrison County's recent increase is not that different from what he's seen in Jones and Wayne. "Overwhelmingly, it's been people out in the county and getting it," he said. "That's what's happening. If you go to the beaches and if you go to the bars, tell me what you see. You see people talking right in front of each other. If it's loud and you're in a condition where you have to talk loudly to communicate, and you're right in somebody's face and you're indoors, that's the perfect way to spread coronavirus."
Lowndes County supervisors at standoff over Harry Sanders' refusal to resign
Lowndes County supervisors have reached a deadlock over their stances on embattled Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders, with two supervisors hoping to discuss Sanders' removal as president, and two others urging for his resignation from the board. District 2 Supervisor Trip Hairston, who previously criticized Sanders' recent racist remarks toward African Americans, is asking for a special-call meeting to decide on Sanders' position as president of the five-member board, according to a letter he sent The Dispatch on Thursday. He also hopes to discuss relocating the Confederate monument in front of the courthouse, which the board voted 3-2 Monday along racial lines to leave in place. However, two supervisors, Leroy Brooks of District 5 and Jeff Smith of District 4, have said they will not attend a special-call meeting and will accept nothing short of Sanders' full resignation from the board, echoing other local officials and protesters.
Lawmakers Push for $120 Billion in Aid for Restaurants Hit by Coronavirus
As Congress discusses a new economic-relief package, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing for $120 billion in aid for restaurants that aims to prevent further closures and job losses due to the coronavirus outbreak. Sen. Roger Wicker (R., Miss.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D., Ore.) are taking the lead on the idea, which calls for direct grants administered by the U.S. Treasury. The lawmakers, who say they were brought together by a group representing smaller, independent restaurants, publicized differing versions of their restaurant-stabilization fund on Thursday. "This is a significant part of our economy and it is more at risk than almost any other segment," Mr. Wicker said. The funding saved many restaurants, which pivoted to takeout and delivery to replace lost sit-down dining. But the PPP aid wasn't sufficient to give other owners confidence about the future of their businesses, and some have already closed. "Everything you do in restaurants everything is based on seating capacity," said Robert St. John, a restaurateur in Mississippi, who has already had to permanently close one of his outlets, the Purple Parrot, but says his other operations can survive with direct grants. "The business model will not hold -- it's just not going to happen."
'It goes back to 1864.' Sen. Roy Blunt blocks motion to remove Confederate statues from Capitol
Sen. Roy Blunt Thursday blocked an effort by Senate Democrats to remove Confederate statutes from the U.S. Capitol. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, attempted to pass by unanimous consent a bill to remove from the U.S. Capitol 11 statues that commemorate Confederate officials and Vice President John C. Calhoun of South Carolina (1825-1832), a champion of slavery. Booker noted the statues were added to the Capitol during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, when the lynching of Blacks was common. "We cannot separate the Confederate statues from this history and legacy of white supremacy in this country," said Booker, one of only three Black senators currently in office. Blunt, the Missouri Republican who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, objected and blocked the motion. He pointed out that his committee had just been assigned the legislation and that he would like to potentially hold a hearing on it before moving forward. He also argued that the motion would violate an agreement which gives each state the right to choose two historical figures to be displayed in the Capitol. The rule was adopted during the Civil War.
'My biggest risk': President Trump says mail-in voting could cost him reelection
President Donald Trump called mail-in voting the biggest threat to his reelection and said his campaign's multimillion-dollar legal effort to block expanded ballot access could determine whether he wins a second term. In an Oval Office interview Thursday focusing on the 2020 election, the president also warned his party in blunt terms not to abandon him and cast Hillary Clinton as a more formidable opponent than Joe Biden, despite his commanding lead in polls. The president's assertion that mail-in voting will endanger his reelection comes as states across the country are rushing to accommodate remote voting in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of voters could be disenfranchised if they decide to stay home on Election Day rather than risk contracting the virus at crowded polling stations. But Trump and his campaign argue, despite a lack of evidence, that widespread mail-in voting will benefit Democrats and invite fraud. The Republican Party is spending tens of millions of dollars on a multi-front legal battle.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar Withdraws From VP Consideration, Says Joe Biden Should Pick A Woman Of Color
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., says she is withdrawing her name from consideration to be Joe Biden's running mate, calling on the former vice president to pick a woman of color. "Since I endorsed the vice president on that joyful night in Dallas, I've never commented on this process at all," she said on MSNBC Thursday night. "But let me tell you this after what I've seen in my state, what I've seen across the country. This is a historic moment and America must seize on this moment." After the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis last month, calls for police reform and racial justice have reverberated nationwide. Klobuchar says she called Biden and told him, "I truly believe ... this is a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket." Klobuchar ran her own campaign for the Democratic nomination, picking up some late momentum. She had a moderate, Midwestern appeal but failed to excite the Democratic base or voters of color.
Juneteenth: A day of joy and pain -- and now national action
In just about any other year, Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the day in 1865 that all enslaved black people learned they had been freed from bondage, would be marked by African American families across the nation with a cookout, a parade, a community festival, a soulful rendition of "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing." But in 2020, as the coronavirus ravishes black America disproportionately, as economic uncertainty wrought by the pandemic strains black pocketbooks, and as police brutality continues to devastate black families, Juneteenth is a day of protest. For many white Americans, recent protests over police brutality have driven their awareness of Juneteenth's significance. "This is one of the first times since the '60s, where the global demand, the intergenerational demand, the multiracial demand is for systemic change," said Cornell University professor Noliwe Rooks, a segregation expert.
MUW releases plans for fall semester
The Mississippi University for Women is shortening its upcoming fall semester because of the coronavirus. The university announced Thursday it will start fall classes on August 17 and end them on November 24, which is two days before Thanksgiving. Exams will start on November 18. The fall semester last year ran from the middle of August into December and included a two-day Fall Break. With the condensed schedule this year, MUW eliminated Fall Break for 2020. As for summer commencement, the W will hold it virtually August 1 at 10 a.m.
After Years of Struggle, U. of Mississippi Will Move Confederate Statue From Its Entrance
The yearslong campaign to relocate the University of Mississippi's Confederate monument succeeded on Thursday, as the state board that governs public colleges backed a plan to move the statue from the campus's main entrance to a cemetery on university grounds. "The presence of the monument in the heart of our campus has been a subject of debate off and on for a long time," said Glenn F. Boyce, Mississippi's chancellor, in a statement. "Now is the time for change as we strive to make a better present and future for everyone on our campus." The decision comes as nationwide racial-justice protests have re-energized the push to eliminate offensive symbols and traditions on and near campuses. At some institutions, swift action is replacing years of delays. Public universities in Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, and North Carolina all recently announced steps to take down art and move plaques, as well as to change building names or abandon moratoriums on such changes.
Approved: State college board votes to relocate UM's Confederate monument
It's done. After years of advocacy, several protests, at least four pieces of student and faculty legislation and thousands of signatures, the state Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Board of Trustees voted unanimously and without discussion to relocate the University of Mississippi's Confederate monument. "I feel relieved," Associated Student Body president Joshua Mannery said. "It feels good to finally be able to think about other things. I felt a lot of pressure, and I'm sure a lot of people at the university did with getting this thing moved." With the Confederate monument officially moving, Mannery said ASB and other student organizations are looking forward to putting pressure on the university administration to make "more changes that they have control over." "(Relocation) is not a significant step forward, but it's a sign," Mannery said. "How can we get a more diverse staff? What can we do to improve the way we react to freedom of speech issues? How can we make campus more equitable? It's things like those that we don't have to wait for the IHL to make a teleconference vote on, things we can do tangibly now."
UM Confederate Statue to Move to Cemetery; Some Fear IHL Building New 'Shrine'
The Confederate monument at the heart of the University of Mississippi campus will move to the Confederate graveyard elsewhere on campus, 114 years after its construction. Arielle Hudson, recent graduate of the University of Mississippi and its first black woman Rhodes Scholar, helped write the resolution that led to the statue's removal. Today, she expressed a cautious optimism about the decision in an interview with the Jackson Free Press. "I'm happy that it's being relocated, (but) I'm a little hesitant about the additional plans that were presented to ensure that the relocation happens," she said. Hudson acknowledged that additional contextualization was always planned for the monument's new site, but expressed unease at the plans. "I do not want it to become a shrine. I know that those are concerns that quite a few of my other co-authors as well as previous student leaders are having right now," she told the Jackson Free Press.
Ole Miss Confederate statue dedication speech unearthed
After years of searching, Dr. Anne Twitty found the full text of the speech dedicating the Confederate monument located on the University of Mississippi campus. The speech was delivered by Charles Scott on May 10, 1906, and was reprinted in full by the Vicksburg Herald on May 11, 1906. Scott was, at the time, a candidate for governor who often campaigned in his Confederate uniform. In his speech, Scott regularly defended the right of secession and argued that slavery was a "mere incident" to the Confederate soldiers and the nobility of white southern women. It's something Twitty, who has a Ph.D from Princeton and specializes in the study areas of Slavery and the Law and Antebellum America, said holds significance in understanding the relevance of Confederate monuments in modern society. "In some ways, what I found is not particularly surprising, given what we knew about the motivation behind these statues already," Twitty said. "But what I think I found was that smoking gun that dismantles these claims that these Confederate monuments are only monuments to the Confederate dead."
Ole Miss's Monument to White Supremacy
Anne Twitty, an associate professor of history at the University of Mississippi, writes for The Atlantic: Confederate ghosts still haunt the University of Mississippi, where I teach. The school's nickname, Ole Miss, is a play on the term enslaved people used to refer to their master's wife. Its teams, "the Rebels," play home games on a campus where the Confederate dead are buried, and several buildings and a Tiffany stained-glass window are dedicated to the "University Greys," a Confederate company made up entirely of the school's students. For the past four years, the fate of the 30-foot-tall Confederate monument at the school's entrance has been the subject of bitter debate. Ever since the administration placed a bronze and marble contextualization plaque at the monument's base, its meaning and future have been hotly contested. This week, after much wrangling, the board that oversees Mississippi's public universities finally consented to its relocation to a "more suitable location." The monument's defenders have long claimed that it was simply a memorial to the dead rather than an attempt to glorify the Confederate project or defend white supremacy. Student activists and historians have worked to challenge such claims.
State health officer: COVID-19 outbreak in Oxford linked to fraternity parties
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs blames an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Oxford on fraternity parties. During Gov. Tate Reeves' coronavirus press conference Thursday, Dobbs said there were 381 news cases and five deaths. He further stated there had been a cluster of cases in Oxford linked to fraternity parties. Dobbs said it's a violation of the law to have more than 20 people in an enclosed area and 50 people period at gatherings. "It's clearly not happening," Dobbs said of the 20 people limit at the parties. Dobbs reminded the public that a lot of 18-24 year-old individuals are getting COVID-19. He reiterated that social distancing and wearing masks are ways to help avoid the virus. He noted that most of the young people contacting COVID-19 in Oxford are white.
Ole Miss Fraternity and Sorority Life sends out warning: No rush parties allowed
The University of Mississippi Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life issued a statement this week to fraternities caught hosting off-campus parties, stating that any chapter found out of compliance will be placed on social probation. The statement comes after an estimated 162 Ole Miss students tested positive for COVID-19, according to a Tuesday announcement by Mayor Robyn Tannehill during a meeting of the Oxford Board of Aldermen. It was reported that many of the cases could be traced back to "rush parties." The director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Dr. Arthur Doctor, stated in an email that his office has "instructed all fraternity chapters to refrain from hosting recruitment or social events in Oxford or any other cities." Doctor also said that they have also instructed all fraternity and sorority chapters to comply with state and federal public health guidance, as well as local and University guidelines related to COVID-19. According to the Oxford Police Department, there have been several reports relating to loud music, but they can't say for sure that they are related to fraternity rush parties.
East Mississippi Community College prepares for in-person instruction in August
School administrators at one community college are preparing to welcome its students back to campus in August. East Mississippi Community College Vice President of Instruction Dr. James Rush said students will come back to campus for in-person instruction on August 17. He said the task force for the college is discussing the best plan to keep its students and faculty safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Rush said task force members are considering whether to require everyone to wear face masks on campus, set up sanitation stations outside of classrooms and require students to sanitize before entering and leaving the classroom. Rush said they're also discussing flexible schedules for students to attend in-person or online classes. The fall semester at EMCC will end the last week of November, said Rush.
Face masks mandatory at Auburn University, starting Monday
Auburn University will require everyone who enters its buildings to wear face masks, as of Monday. The university issued a statement late Thursday afternoon advising students, staff and faculty of the change. The university is also encouraging people to wear face coverings in outdoor spaces as well "when appropriate social distancing is not possible." Face coverings will be required at Auburn events not held on campus as well. The statement said the change is meant to help fully reopen the campus for the fall semester. "Wearing face masks greatly reduces the chances of COVID-19 transmission, protecting those around us. By taking individual responsibility for the health of the entire campus, we are working together toward a safe and uninterrupted fall semester," the statement read.
University System of Georgia to review names of buildings. UGA ready to 'assist and support' says Jere Morehead
Georgia's public university system announced it will review the names of all the buildings and colleges on its campuses weeks after a column in a college newspaper advocated for changing the name of one school. The announcement Wednesday said an advisory group will make a report to the University system's board after the review about any recommended changes. Officials did not explain the reason for the review, but Board of Regents Chairman Sachin Shailendra said it was important the university system "represents the very best of our state and 333,000 students." "I want to express my strong support and appreciation to the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, particularly Chairman Sachin Shailendra and Chancellor Steve Wrigley, on announcing a distinguished group of civic leaders to engage in this very important and timely work," University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead said in the USG statement. "UGA stands ready to assist and support in this review of names at USG institutions, including those at the University of Georgia." UGA football coach Kirby Smart also provided comment to USG, saying he supported the formation of the committee.
LSU will hold summer commencement online, postpones in-person ceremony again
LSU will hold its summer commencement ceremony online due to uncertain circumstances surrounding Louisiana's recovery from the initial spread of coronavirus, interim LSU President Tom Galligan said in an open letter Thursday. The virtual ceremony will be broadcast on LSU's Facebook page at 10 a.m. on Aug. 7. The university explored "many possibilities" on how to safely hold an in-person ceremony, Galligan said, but since it is uncertain what phase of recovery Louisiana will be in by August, LSU decided that a virtual ceremony "is the best option for everyone's safety at this time." "We know this news will disappoint many of our graduates and their families," Galligan said, "but the safety of our LSU community is our utmost priority." LSU is currently in Phase 2 of its return-to-campus plan, and on June 29, the university expects to begin Phase 3, which will boost faculty and staff to 75% or less of personnel on campus. Phase 3 will also include limited reopenings of the UREC, Union, library and dining facilities.
'Gator Bait' removal, mandatory bias training: UF's plan to address racism
The time for "Gator Bait" at UF has ended. The phrase is associated with "horrific historic racist imagery," and UF Athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue their use of it, UF President Kent Fuchs wrote. Fuchs announced a sweeping list of initiatives for the university to address racism and inequity in an email to all UF students Thursday. In the email, he outlined measures like implementing mandatory training on racism, inclusion and bias, reviewing historical monuments or names and removing those "that UF can control that celebrate the Confederacy or its leaders" and ending the university's use of prison and jail inmate labor. A presidential task force, led by the UF president's executive chief of staff Winfred M. Phillips, will document the history of UF in relation to race and ethnicity, according to the email. A second task force will then review "all historical namings" to determine if they should be changed. Students have filed petitions to remove the names of racist figureheads from buildings on campus, like the Reitz Student Union and the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. UF's Black Student Union also issued a petition asking UF to give Black students a more safe and fair learning environment.
Colleges seek to rename buildings tied to South Carolina's racist past. Students say it's about time.
There's an historic reckoning occurring on college campuses across South Carolina, as calls from students and activists are forcing college officials to re-examine having campus buildings named after figures tied to the state's racist past. The debate isn't new, but students from the Upstate to the Lowcountry believe the opportunity for rebranding has never been stronger as national momentum for racial inclusiveness continues to build. In Columbia, a women's dormitory at the state's largest university is named for James Marion Sims, a Lancaster native who's considered the "father of modern gynecology" but who experimented on slave women without anesthesia. That's a cruel irony, said University of South Carolina senior Emilie Parsons, a member of the Residence Hall Association's board. "We should be honoring figures that we can all be proud of, not those that make us ashamed," Parsons wrote in launching an online petition this week to remove Sims' name. USC President Bob Caslen said this week he supports the change, and trustees are expected Friday to, like Clemson, seek a Heritage Act exemption from the Legislature to rename the building.
U. of Missouri curators approve tuition hike, budget cuts
The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved a 2.3% increase in tuition for the fall for most categories of students at its four campuses. The increase, which will generate approximately $14.8 million in additional revenue, is not designed to offset losses in state support or extra expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university stated in a news release. "With this small increase, the UM universities remain among the lowest in tuition increases throughout the country," System President and interim MU Chancellor Mun Choi said in the release. The university is considering changes to its tuition model, including setting a cap on total tuition each semester instead of charging a set rate for every credit hour. "Our goal is to make the way we charge tuition and fees simpler for our students and parents to understand, while improving retention and time to completion," said Ryan Rapp, vice president for finance at the UM System. "We always want to keep tuition down, but this increased revenue is absolutely necessary," said Curator David Steelman.
U. of Missouri students, instructors must wear face masks, shields indoors this fall
University of Missouri students will be required to wear face masks while indoors on campus this fall as classes begin amid the continuing pandemic. University of Missouri System President and Interim MU Chancellor Mun Choi confirmed the decision in a news conference after a UM System Board of Curators meeting Thursday. Instructors will wear face shields, Choi said, which the university is working to secure. Face shields would allow deaf and students who are hard of hearing to better read instructors' lips. MU has not made a final decision if it will be able to provide face masks to students, but students "should be prepared to wear them in certain areas of campus," MU spokesman Christian Basi said. Decisions on whether the system's other three campuses will require students to wear face masks are being decided in accordance with local health officials, Choi said, and are not yet finalized. All four campuses will start in-person classes Aug. 24. MU is prepared to transition to hybrid or online classes during the semester depending on the progression of COVID-19 throughout the fall.
Supreme Court rules that Trump administration cannot immediately end DACA
College leaders and higher education groups across the country applauded the Supreme Court's ruling against the Trump administration's attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but they noted that the decision Thursday was only a temporary reprieve that did not resolve the fates of thousands of young undocumented immigrants -- many of them college students -- in this country. If anything, the higher ed representatives said the court's action highlighted the need for Congress to pass legislation offering permanent protections for these immigrants, who remain vulnerable should the Trump administration, or a future administration, launch a new effort to scrap the program known as DACA. Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, said Congress should act "in the wake of this momentous and welcome ruling" to give permanent protection to Dreamers. Trump blasted the Supreme Court on Twitter.
Education Department Is Making It Harder For Colleges To Boost Student Aid During Crisis
The U.S. Department of Education is making it harder for colleges to reconsider -- and potentially increase -- financial aid for students who have lost jobs or family income in the current economic crisis. The department has shelved guidance that once encouraged colleges to do more to help students affected by a downturn. The guidance, a pair of letters published by the Obama administration in April and May of 2009, was written in response to the Great Recession. It allowed colleges to fast-track reconsideration of financial aid for students who had lost jobs, and it encouraged unemployed Americans to consider enrolling in postsecondary education and applying for aid. Perhaps most importantly, though, the 2009 guidance reassured schools that they would not be punished for helping students. The department has said little publicly about this apparent shift in policy.
'We Can't Ignore This Issue': How to Talk With Students About Racism
As protests over the police killing of George Floyd and other Black people, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, and debates about policing put the spotlight on the country's struggles with racism, many professors are wondering how to address those events in their classrooms this fall. Should they talk about race and racism with their students? And if so, what should they say? What connections could they make to their coursework, or their discipline? And how do professors, whose ranks are disproportionately white, prepare themselves for those difficult conversations and explorations? After all, you don't know where your students are coming from. Some have participated in protests, or have friends and family members living through these experiences. Others have been watching from afar, not sure what to make of issues like defunding the police or unclear about terms like "systemic racism." And you may never have explored the topic personally, or in your scholarly work or teaching.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey takes stand against Mississippi's state flag
As the movement to change the state flag of Mississippi has intensified in line with racial unrest in the United States, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey took a stand against the flag Thursday evening. Sankey said in a statement that until the Confederate emblem is removed from the upper-left corner of Mississippi's state flag, the conference will consider precluding SEC championship events from being conducted in the Magnolia State. Starkville hosted the 2016 SEC Softball Tournament and Oxford hosted the conference's softball tournament in 2011. Starkville hosted the 2012 SEC Men's Tennis Tournament while Oxford hosted it the following year. Conversely, Oxford hosted the 2012 SEC Women's Tennis Tournament while Starkville hosted it a year later. "It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi," Sankey said in the statement. "Our students deserve an opportunity to learn and compete in environments that are inclusive and welcoming to all." Within half an hour, Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen and university president Mark Keenum publicly supported Sankey's stance. Later in the evening, Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach tweeted his support for Keenum's response.
Commissioner threatens no SEC championships in Mississippi until state flag changes
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey threatened to not host any future conference championship events in Mississippi until the state changes its flag. Mississippi is the only state that still has the Confederate symbol -- a blue cross with 13 stars -- on its flag. Several state universities, including Mississippi State and Ole Miss, stopped flying the flag in 2016. Mississippi State president Mark Keenum issued a statement shortly after Sankey's comments Thursday, saying he understood the commissioner's position. "Clearly, the current national climate is such that this debate may produce unintended consequences for our student athletes here at Mississippi State University and those at the University of Mississippi," Keenum said in the statement, adding that there could be a negative economic impact to keeping the current state flag. New Bulldogs football coach Mike Leach agreed, tweeting: "I support President Keenum. At Mississippi State University I embrace the inclusion of all People and open dialogue on all issues. Hail State!"
SEC Warns Mississippi Over Confederate Emblem on State Flag
The Southeastern Conference on Thursday demanded that Mississippi remove the Confederate battle emblem from its state flag, linking one of the region's greatest passions -- college sports -- with one of its most intractable debates. Greg Sankey, the league's commissioner, said in a statement that it was "past time for change to be made to the flag." The conference's ire is focused on the 126-year-old flag, which includes the Confederate battle emblem in its upper left corner. In a referendum in 2001, Mississippi voters overwhelmingly endorsed keeping the flag, with nearly two-thirds of ballots cast in support of retaining it. That vote resonates through the State Capitol in Jackson to this day, and Mississippi's state flag is the last in the country with the battle emblem. In the years since the referendum, there have been persistent calls for another vote, and the SEC's two member schools in the state, Mississippi and Mississippi State, have lowered the state flags on their campuses. In a separate statement, Mississippi State President Mark Keenum said that he understood the conference's position and that he had repeatedly told the state's leading elected officials, including in a letter last Friday, that people on the campus in Starkville wanted to see the flag altered.
SEC tells Mississippi to change state flag featuring Confederate symbol
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey announced Thursday night that the conference will consider not holding events in Mississippi -- home of two SEC schools -- unless the state changes its flag, which features the Confederate battle-flag emblem in its upper left corner. Soon after Sankey's statement, Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen released a message saying the school supports the SEC's stance, even if it means not hosting conference events (the school hosted the SEC softball tournament in 2016). "Alongside our university leadership, we aim to continue our support for changing the state flag, which should unite us, not divide us," Cohen said in a statement. Mississippi State President Mark Keenum noted in a statement of his own that the school's students and faculty have been pressuring the state to change its flag since 2015 and said he understands Sankey's stance. "On June 12, I wrote to the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the Mississippi House reaffirming that support. The letter said, in part, that our flag should be unifying, not a symbol that divides us. I emphasized that it is time for a renewed, respectful debate on this issue," Keenum said.
Southeastern Conference pushing Mississippi to change flag
The Southeastern Conference is considering barring league championship events in Mississippi unless the state changes its Confederate-based flag. "It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi," Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement Thursday. The NCAA has already said it would not schedule postseason events in Mississippi because of the state flag. National protests about racial injustice have renewed debate about Confederate symbols. Mississippi has the last state flag that includes the battle emblem. During a Black Lives Matter protest June 5 outside the Mississippi Governor's Mansion in downtown Jackson, thousands of people cheered as an 18-year-old organizer, Maisie Brown, called for the removal of all Confederate symbols in the state, including from the flag. All of Mississippi's public universities and several cities and counties have stopped flying the state flag in recent years because of the emblem. The state has two SEC schools -- the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University. Leaders at both universities said Thursday that the state should change the flag.
SEC commissioner to lawmakers: Lose Confederate emblem from state flag, or lose championship events
Greg Sankey, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, said in a statement on Thursday evening that the conference would consider banning championship events in Mississippi until the state changes its state flag, which contains the Confederate battle emblem. Mississippi State President Mark Keenum released a statement shortly after Sankey's statement published. "Since 2015, our Student Association, Robert Holland Faculty Senate and university administration have been firmly on record in support of changing the state flag," Keenum said in the statement. "I have reiterated that view to our state's leaders on multiple occasions, including during face-to-face discussions in recent days and hours. On June 12, I wrote to the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the Mississippi House reaffirming that support. The letter said, in part, that our flag should be unifying, not a symbol that divides us. I emphasized that it is time for a renewed, respectful debate on this issue."
SEC Commissioner: Mississippi must change flag or risk losing opportunities to host conference championships
As calls to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the Mississippi state flag have grown in recent weeks, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey issued a major statement on the controversial banner Thursday. Sankey called for the removal of the Confederate demarcations on the flag and threatened that should it remain, the SEC could preclude future conference championships from being held in the state. The last time an SEC championship was hosted in the state of Mississippi was in May 2016 when the conference softball championships were held in Starkville. MSU also hosted the 2015 SEC outdoor track and field championships, while Ole Miss last hosted an SEC Championship in 2013 when the men's tennis tournament took place in Oxford. In response to Sankey's staunch remarks, Mississippi State President Mark Keenum and Athletic Director John Cohen issued statements Thursday confirming their continued support for a change in the flag -- though Keenum argued discussing the possibility of MSU and Ole Miss losing hosting opportunities for conference championships could bring "unintended consequences" to the universities.
SEC commissioner, former Mississippi athletes advocate for flag change
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has taken a stance on the Mississippi flag, one that could keep certain conference events out of the state. While the legislature considers how to handle growing interest in changing the state flag, which includes the stars and bars Confederate symbol, Sankey says the conference may choose to play championship events that could be played in Mississippi someplace else. Last week, Senate Democrats filed a resolution that would allow the Senate to bring up legislation regarding the state flag. It's become a hot political issue since the committee placement by Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann could leave it unaddressed by lawmakers. Sankey wasn't the only one making news about the state flag Thursday. A group of 31 former college athletes in Mississippi have written the NCAA asking the body to take a more active role against the flag. The letter was sent to Mississippi Today which published it Thursday evening. MSU president Mark Keenum said his school's student association, faculty senate and administration have publicly supported a change in the state flag. "Clearly the national climate is such that this debate may produce unintended consequences for our student-athletes here at Mississippi State University and those at the University of Mississippi," Keenum said.
Athletes ask NCAA to ban baseball regionals until lawmakers change state flag
Dozens of current and former college athletes are asking top leaders at the NCAA to keep Mississippi from hosting college baseball regionals and women's basketball tournament games until lawmakers change the state flag, which features the Confederate battle emblem. The 31 former college athletes, including Jackson State and NBA great Lindsey Hunter, sent the letter on Thursday to top leaders at the NCAA, which oversees athletics of the nation's colleges and universities. The athletes called the flag "a symbol that has terrorized generations" and "a known symbol of oppression, division and hate." College baseball is immensely popular in Mississippi, and the state's big three universities -- Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Southern Miss -- regularly host postseason tournaments. Additionally, Mississippi State has hosted several women's basketball tournament games in recent years. In essence, the athletes are asking the NCAA to further tighten their existing postseason restrictions. In the letter, the athletes said that the old policy "must become more restrictive in order to accomplish needed change."
Justin Foscue first Mississippi State draftee to sign pro contract
Mississippi State second baseman Justin Foscue officially signed his professional contract on Friday morning. Foscue, the 14th overall pick of the 2020 Draft by the Texas Rangers, signed his contract for $3,250,000, which was nearly a million dollars under slot value. The slot value for the 14th pick is $4,036,800. Foscue entered the draft projected as one of the best bats in college baseball and is seen seen as a 20-home run presence at second base in the pros. He finished his MSU career with a .297 batting average 153 hits, 38 doubles, 19 home runs and 96 RBIs in 131 starts. He also had a .948 fielding percentage. He is the first player with Mississippi State ties to sign his contract. Players Jordan Westburg (30th overall) and JT Ginn (52nd) have yet to sign.
Alcorn State & Ole Miss to square off in historic meeting in 2028
History was made Thursday for college football in the Magnolia State as Alcorn State and Ole Miss agreed to an in-state showdown in Oxford come 2028. This will be the first time the two teams meet in football and will be the first HBCU and current SWAC opponent that the Rebels have faced on the field. Ole Miss Vice Chancellor, Keith Carter, said in a statement that "we need to keep money in the state" and that his personal relationship with Alcorn's athletic director and former Rebel basketball player, Derek Horne, is what made the contract talks of the game official. The game will take place on Sept. 9, 2028 at Vaught Hemingway Stadium.
UGA's Redcoat Band will no longer play 'Tara's Theme' from 'Gone With the Wind' after games
The University of Georgia's marching band, known as the Redcoat Band, is ending a tradition to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment at Bulldogs games. "We are ending performances of 'Tara's Theme,' effective immediately, and replacing it as our signature with 'Georgia on My Mind,'" acting band director Brett Bawcum wrote in a letter to band members that was posted on social media. "Though the tradition has been under discussion for months within the band, the current social climate has highlighted the urgency of addressing it and made me conscious of the message that could be interpreted by delay. "To be clear, the issue with the tradition is not the motivation of those who have embraced it, but rather the possibilities it may limit in those who haven't. I value tradition, but I value creating a welcoming environment much more." "Tara's Theme" had been the usual postgame concert following Georgia games and is the opening song from "Gone With The Wind."
UF drops Gator Bait cheer over 'horrific historic racist imagery'
The University of Florida will no longer use the "Gator Bait" cheer at sporting events, President Kent Fuchs announced Thursday, citing the racist imagery associated with the phrase as the primary reason behind the decision. "While I know of no evidence of racism associated with our 'Gator Bait' cheer at UF sporting events, there is horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase," Fuchs wrote in a UF statement titled "Another Step Toward Positive Change Against Racism." "Accordingly University Athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue the use of the cheer." The cheer typically follows a brief intro from the UF band, followed by fans using their arms to "chomp" twice, followed by a "Gator Bait" cheer. t's unclear if fans will still be encouraged to do the chomp, which became popular following the release of the movie 'Jaws' before becoming an official tradition during the 1981 season, following Florida's decision. Furthermore, Fuchs said Florida will take steps "removing any monuments or namings that UF can control that celebrate the Confederacy or its leaders."
Eye on the budget: Pandemic's effect has U. of Arkansas' focus
At the outset of the covid-19 pandemic in mid-March, University of Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek said the department would be prepared to handle the financial repercussions of the crisis, come what may. The athletic department submitted a budget April 24 with anticipated revenues of $124.5 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year that starts July 1. That proposed budget will hold steady if the football season proceeds on course with unlimited capacity at 76,000-seat Reynolds Razorback Stadium. If health officials in coordination with UA administration put restrictions on crowd counts, which is starting to look more likely, adjustments will have to be made. Yurachek's stated aims have been to keep the student-athlete experience intact as well as possible and to not cut staff or programs amid the crisis. So far, those goals remain intact, but then again, Arkansas has not had to deal with a curtailing of football revenues. At least not yet. As Yurachek told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in April, "When you reduce your revenues by 10 or 20%, correspondingly we've got to cut our expenses in the same percentages."
College football players test positive for virus as HBCUs cancel four games
Historically black colleges and universities have canceled four football games that had been scheduled for the early part of the fall season as a growing number of players have tested positive for COVID-19 in university football programs around the country, mostly among major conference institutions. Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in an interview with CNN sounded pessimistic about the odds of football seasons occurring this fall. "Unless players are essentially in a bubble -- insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day -- it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall," Dr. Fauci said Thursday. The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I Council allowed athletes in all sports to begin participating in voluntary athletics beginning June 1. And the NCAA's Division I "Power Five" conferences shortly thereafter opened up football team workouts on university campuses. Since then several football programs around the country have reported that players have tested positive for the virus.

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