Man who has university dept named after him blames black students for plummeting real estate values, tax revenue
The University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism was named after Edwin Meek, 77, who had to apologize on Wednesday for a seemingly racist post featuring two black students
One of the major donors behind the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi (colloquially known as Ole Miss) landed himself in trouble after a seemingly racist post involving students after one of them called him out for his apparent "racism and misogyny".
77-year-old Edwin Meek, who donated $5.3million towards Ole Miss's school of journalism, unwittingly shared pictures of Mahogany Jordan and her friend Kiyona Crawford in a post about the 'decline in real estate values' and 'enrollment numbers' after a series of fist fights broke out at the town square on Wednesday.
Jordan soon hit back calling his post "racist" and "sexist". She wrote an open letter to The Daily Mississippian, the student newspaper, saying neither she nor Crawford were involved in the "fights and scenes" Meek spoke about.
"However, somehow for Meek, the blame for the university's enrollment decline and city's decline in property value was easier to associate with two women of color as opposed to the particular demographic that has been at the forefront of the school's most controversial moments by far. The post reeks of racist ideology as well as misogyny and is not representative of who either of us are," she said.
Meek donated the hefty sum to the University of Mississippi in 2009 and had worked with their public relations for over 37 years. The name of the school building is a tribute to his legacy.
But Jeffrey Vitter, Ole Miss's chancellor, agreed that Meek's post had an "unjustified racial overtone", following which, the donor removed it and apologized.
Meek shared photos of the two black women in the town square on Wednesday night. They were dressed in party clothes early Sunday morning after a football game.
"I hesitated until now to publish these pictures but think it is important that our community see what the camera is seeing at 2 am after a ballgame," he wrote in the since-deleted post. "I hear there were 180 police working the weekend but of all the pictures late night, the fights and scenes, I have seen no police presence. Enough, Oxford and Ole Miss leaders, get on top of this before it is too late. A three percent decline in enrollment is nothing compared to what we will see if this continues…and real estate values will plummet as will tax revenue," he said.
In the lines that followed, he urged the university as well as the city of Oxford to "protect the values we hold dear."
That said, according to the university's Black Student Union, the juxtaposition of Meek's words and the photos of two black women implies that real estate values are dropping because of an increased presence of black folks.
Meek was forced to delete the post five hours later due to the severe backlash. The Meek School of Journalism subsequently shared a statement condemning his words following the controversial post.
"Earlier today, the donor whose name is on our school, Ed Meek, made a post on his personal Facebook account that we find highly offensive. This post is in no way associated with or represents our school, our students or our faculty. We are embarrassed by his actions," the school said.
Vitter also released a similar statement, saying, "We all want to ensure a safe, family-friendly environment at the university and in Oxford, and we condemn the tone and content of this social media post. The photos in his post suggest an unjustified racial overtone that is highly offensive and we urge him to withdraw his comment and apologize to anyone offended."
Now, an online petition demands that Meek's name be removed from the university's school of journalism.
"This petition moves to remove Meek's name from the Department of Journalism program and the Department of Journalism building at the University of Mississippi in hopes of correcting the unjustified racial comments about African American population at the University of Mississippi and in Oxford to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all students," the petition states.
Meek then issued an apology on Facebook the same evening.
"I apologize to those offended by my post. My intent was to point out we have a problem in The Grove and on the Oxford Square," he wrote, the Oxford Eagle reports.
However, Jordan rejected the apology, saying, "I don't need your apology. In fact, I don't need anything from the reciprocal guilt you feel after being called out for what you are. The two things that automatically put me at a disadvantage in our society, you'll never completely understand."