Phi Delta Theta, Ole Miss, Investigation, University of Mississippi

Phi Delta Theta Removes Student At Center Of Ole Miss Investigation

The university chapter of the NAACP named the student as James 'JP' Staples in an Instagram post.

As BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported, University of Mississippi Chancellor Glen Boyce opened an investigation into an unnamed student at the university in connection with a campus counter-protest during a pro-Palestinian protest on campus. The student, who remains unnamed by the university as it conducts its investigation, was captured on video making gestures of a racially inflammatory nature toward a Black student.

Phi Delta Theta, the fraternity to which the student belonged, announced his removal from their organization in a post on its website on May 6. 

According to the press release, “The past few weeks have been challenging for many colleges and universities across the United States as they struggle to balance the protection of free speech with maintaining appropriate and respectful discourse among demonstrators and others within the campus community.”

The statement continued, “As part of that community, Phi Delta Theta recognizes that freedom of expression is part of the collegiate experience; however, the Fraternity is committed to upholding its principles as a private membership organization.”

The statement concludes, “After reviewing the incident, it was determined that the individual’s behavior was unacceptable. The action in question was offensive, outside the bounds of this discourse, and contradictory to our values.”

As Time Magazine reports, although the student remains unnamed by the university, the university chapter of the NAACP named the student as James “JP” Staples in a May 4 Instagram post. The post, which quotes an email sent to university students, also featured calls for expulsion for Staples and two members of another fraternity, Connor Moore and Rouse Davis Boyce. That call immediately followed a press release affirming the organization’s support of the Palestinian people and those who advocate for the rights of the oppressed. Their post, signed by the Ole Miss NAACP chapter President Meghan Kelly, also stated a desire to continue to publicly identify those who acted out of racial animus or malice in the protest’s public setting. 

The Ole Miss Associated Student Body, the university’s student government organization, also weighed in with its own statement declaring that it was dismayed by what its members witnessed at the protest. “Yesterday, we observed a demonstration on our campus–a place for the expression of diverse viewpoints, protected by our constitutional First Amendment Rights. Yet, amidst this expression, unacceptable remarks were made that departed from our cherished values.”

Like the university’s student government organization, Jacob Batte, Ole Miss’s director of News and Media Relations, told ABC News that the university “cannot comment specifically about that video” but emphasized that “statements were made at the demonstration on our campus Thursday that were offensive and inappropriate.” Batte also maintained that “any actions that violate university policy will be met with appropriate action.” The students protesting Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, meanwhile, told the outlet in a statement that they had been the victims of “blind reactionism that had little to do with the genocide we were protesting as well as our demands.”

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