UNIVERSITY, Ms. – As of Saturday afternoon, the University of Mississippi’s Chancellor, Morris Stocks, has refused to honor several demands made by a small but “militant” group of African-American students. Administration officials reported that the rogue group stormed the Lyceum building Wednesday evening as part of a protest over equal rights.
The students, led by Ole Miss junior Tyrese Williams, rushed the administration building just after sundown on Wednesday and barred the exits before taking a number of hostages. One of those hostages, Dr. Donald Cole, Assistant Provost and Assistant to the Chancellor Concerning Minority Affairs, announced Thursday morning that after reviewing the students’ demands, he’s elected to join their cause. “All these kids are asking for is equal treatment,” Dr. Cole told CNN.
Dr. Cole, the students’ official spokesman, said he’d delivered by way of courier, a handwritten list of demands to the school’s chancellor Friday morning. The twenty-point list, obtained by CNN, asks for, among other things, a zero-tolerance policy on racial, sexual, and homophobic epithets.
“It’s just not the right time,” the Chancellor said in a statement released by the university Friday evening. “We don’t currently have the resources available to implement additional policies, particularly for the appeasement of a handful of radicalized hooligans.”
Meanwhile, at the request of university officials and the mayor of Oxford, Mississippi governor Phil Bryant has mobilized and deployed five thousand soldiers from the National Guard to the University of Mississippi’s campus. “We intend to quell this insurgency in time for classes to resume Monday morning,” said Colonel Mark Hitson of the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, speaking with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Colonel Hitson’s unit served three tours in Iraq, most recently in 2009.
At least sixteen fatalities were reported Saturday morning as heavily armed National Guardsmen supported by reconnaissance drones and helicopter gunships, performed building-by-building searches of dormitories on and off campus.
Colonel Hitson said his troops are in the process of rounding up “suspected conspirators and sympathizers.” As of Friday, approximately fourteen hundred students, administrators, and staff had been placed in an “internment-style” camp set up by the Mississippi National Guard at Vaught-Hemmingway stadium, home of the Ole Miss Rebels football team.
U.S. special operations forces working in the vicinity have identified a number of high-value targets inside the Lyceum building in preparation for the National Guard’s final assault on Sunday, Colonel Hitson said. Code-named ‘Dixie Stampede,’ the operation is meant to eliminate the remaining threat to campus security “by any means necessary.” Hostage rescue, according to Hitson, is a secondary objective but not a priority. “This is ending one way or another,” Colonel Hitson said, “and we’re dictating that.”