Two years ago, the Institutions of Higher Learning implemented a comprehensive policy to keep our campuses safe. This policy allows for universities to prohibit guns in specific non-public campus areas. Earlier today, the Mississippi House of Representatives approved House Bill 1083, which, if passed by the Senate and signed into law, would override the IHL policy and our University’s specific policies. It would put our campus community, law enforcement, and first responders at great risk by allowing weapons in sensitive places such as classrooms, hospitals, clinics, and athletic and performance venues.
The University of Mississippi vehemently condemns the racism, bigotry, and the acts of violence committed by hate groups in Charlottesville this past weekend. There is no place for violence and intolerance — not in our communities, on our campuses, or in our country. No words can adequately express how saddened we are by these acts. We stand with the University of Virginia community and send our sympathies to all victims of this tragedy. Please join us in keeping Charlottesville and UVA in our thoughts as they heal, find unity, and move forward. We ask members of the UM community to support one another, follow the principles of our Creed, and access campus resources should they be needed.
On January 29, I shared a statement with the University of Mississippi community about a recent Presidential Executive Order that limits immigrant and nonimmigrant visa holders from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The order also directed the suspension of the refugee admission program for 120 days, and indefinitely for refugee processing of Syrian nationals.
As a public international research institution of higher education, the University of Mississippi is focused upon education and the success of our students in a global society. We are a community of scholars committed to fostering a diverse environment, and we benefit greatly from a strong international and multicultural presence.
One of our top priorities is a safe and welcoming environment for all our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. However, we recognize that for many in our community, there is significant anxiety, fear, and uncertainty related to recent Presidential Executive Orders.
There have recently been misunderstandings arising from a draft student resolution and online petition calling for the University of Mississippi to become a sanctuary campus. To be clear, the university does not have the power or ability to create a ‘sanctuary’ that would be exempt from any federal or state laws. As I stated on Nov. 29, the University of Mississippi will continue to uphold all federal and state laws, as well as policies and procedures established by the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. As a public institution of higher education, we will always focus upon education and the success of our students.
Jeffrey S. Vitter
I am aware of the resolution drafted by a few Associated Student Body Senators and some student organization presidents calling for the university to become a sanctuary for undocumented members of our community. Leaders from our Associated Student Body have informed us that the resolution has been pulled from tonight’s agenda and will not be discussed.
As chancellor, my responsibility is to administer and operate the university within applicable Federal and state laws, as well as the policies and procedures established by the Board of Trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.