Student leaders at the University of Mississippi voted Tuesday to remove the state flag, which has the Confederate flag in its design, from their campus.
The students on the Ole Miss Associated Student Body Senate passed the resolution with 33 in favor, 15 against and 1 choosing to abstain. The resolution requests that the University of Mississippi stop flying the Mississippi state flag.
Mississippi is the only state flag in the country that still includes the Confederate “battle flag,” and the students say it has divided their campus.
In the resolution, the student senate writes that the presence of the symbol on the campus “undermines efforts to promote diversity and create a safe, tolerant academic environment for all students.” They add that it “violates the UM Creed, which calls for ‘respect for the dignity of each person.’”
Shortly after the student senate’s vote passed, the University of Mississippi Staff Council passed a resolution in agreement with the students.
“As the state’s flagship university, we must lead and stand as an example of what an inclusive institution of higher education should be in our great state,” the resolution reads. “We call for the removal of the Mississippi State Flag until there is a state flag that is representative of all Mississippians.
Ultimately, the university chancellor will decided whether or not to take down the flag on campus.
On Friday, the university’s student chapter of the NAACP held a rally to protest the flag. According to student reports, the protesters were confronted by pro-flag supporters from the International Keystone Knights, a Ku Klux Klan affiliate.
A student senator also started a petition on change.org to keep the flag. It received just over 200 signatures.
The student’s debate about the flag comes as the same debate is happening at the state level and around the country.
Most recently, a Tennessee county voted against raising the Confederate flag at the county’s courthouse on Monday.
In Mississippi, a group of authors, celebrities, business leaders and athletes called for the state to remove the Confederate symbol from the flag in August.
Virginia has banned driving with a license plate that has the Confederate flag on it.
These calls to stop flying the Confederate flag gained momentum after a white gunman (who had a history of brandishing the stars and bars) killed nine African-Americans in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June.
South Carolina later removed the flag from the grounds of its State House in July.