Ole Miss students protest chancellor’s contract not being renewed

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OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss students gathered Wednesday to protest Chancellor Dan Jones' contract not being renewed and asked for the IHL to reconsider their decision.

Last week's announcement stunned many in the Ole Miss community.

Within days, students mobilized to make sure their voices against the decision were heard.

"We stand with Dan! We stand with Dan!" about a thousand people chanted Wednesday afternoon on the Ole Miss campus.

The IHL board said the reason for letting Jones go was related to financial issues at the University of Mississippi Medical Center; however, his supporters disagree, saying it's all politics.

"His positive impact on campus cannot be denied," senior Phillip Waller, one of the outspoken leaders spearheading the #istandwithdan movement, said.

He said students have dedicated their time and money to make sure Jones stays at Ole Miss because Jones has always been so transparent with them.

"He has an open door policy for students, faculty. Anyone who wants to talk to him, he'll talk to," Waller said.

Other students like Marcus Daniels, an aspiring medical student, agree.

"He's been a great inspiration for me and he's a role model," Daniels said.

Daniels said he would often speak to Jones about working in the medical field, but would also talk to him about other topics.

"Race relations, things like LGBTQ relations on campus and in the community and in the state of Mississippi and in the nation as a whole," he said.

These topics are often touchy for a university leader.

"He actually embraces these discussions," Daniels said.

Supports of Jones said he is a catalyst for helping bring together a student body with a history of a long division, dating back to 1962 when the first African-American student enrolled at Ole Miss, all the way to more recent controversies, which included waving a Confederate flag to seeing Colonel Reb on the sidelines.

Besides sparking social change, supporters said he brought other positive fiscal changes to the university since he started in 2009.

They said he's increased fundraising by 70 percent, and since 2010 he's brought $381 million to the university. Enrollment has also increased by 26 percent.

Student and rally speaker Sierra Mannie said she hopes the board listens to the students concerns and reconsiders their decision.

"I know what his type of leadership means to this place. It's heartbreaking," Mannie said.

Wednesday afternoon, hours after the rally was over rumors began swirling the board was meeting to discuss Chancellor Jones. However, a spokesperson with the IHL said no meeting was scheduled.

Jones' contract is set to expire in September.

A petition to bring Jones back is circulating and a Facebook page for the movement has garnered thousands of likes.

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