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Ole Miss to change building name, add plaques to give Confederate context

OXFORD, Miss. -- Gabriel Jackson is a freshman just starting off at Ole Miss. He has a positive attitude about school as well as the compromise decided on by his new university.

”I think it's good to keep the people in mind who helped build this place so I could be here today," he said.

Chancellor Jeff Vitter has announced a special advisory committee completed its work this summer. The committee was tasked with figuring out how to acknowledge a past balanced with "difficult history" related to the Confederacy, slavery and segregation.

The changes include adding a plaque to Lamar Hall, named for a Supreme Court justice, congressman and senator who also signed Mississippi’s secession orders, funded part of the Confederate army and owned slaves.

The University also decided to add plaques to three other buildings: George Hall, Longstreet Hall and Barnard Observatory. And, officials will add a single plaque to a grouping of Antebellum sites built by slaves, including Croft Hall, the Lyceum and Hilgard Cut.

The committee also recommended Vardaman Hall be renamed rather than honoring a former governor who advocated lynching. Vitter has agreed to that change as well.

Dr. Alice Clark, Vice Chancellor for university relations released the following statement to WREG:

"The University of Mississippi’s Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History & Context (CACHC) was established by Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter in summer 2016 to identify physical sites on the Oxford campus for contextualization in order to offer more history, to put the past into context and to do so without attempts to erase history, even difficult history. Through this committee, UM engaged in a deliberate process with an academic focus and broad community input with the fundamental underlying principle that, as an educational institution, we have a duty to understand and learn from history. Contextualization, properly done, is an additive process, not a subtractive one and is an important extension of our university’s responsibility to educate."

Several students on campus supported the committee's decision.

“It is history, but at same time it could be a little offensive. But that’s the school,” freshman Kyle Cousin said.

But many students we spoke with support the compromise.

"It’s a good idea to give people an idea of the history of what happened here and where the buildings got their name from," freshman Jody Todd said.

Despite the controversy on campus and around the country, students hoped to move past it.

“I just love Ole Miss regardless of the differences we have. But we’re still a family,” Cousin said.

Officials said the changes would be made this fall.