January 12 2017
Jillian Kay Melchior
A Mississippi lawmaker wants to withhold a quarter of the salary of any president of a university that refuses to fly the state flag. As of November, not a single public university in Mississippi was raising the state flag, which features the Confederate stars and bars.
Mike Seymour, a Republican state senator and author of the proposed legislation, said the 25 percent salary cut would apply not only to university presidents but also to mayors who refused to hoist the state flag.
Their refusal, Seymour told local press, is “against the will of the people.” The last time voters considered the issue, in 2001, 65 percent favored keeping the Confederate imagery on the flag.
State law requires schools to display the state flag on campus, but it doesn’t specify whether the law includes universities or applies only to K-12 buildings. Last year, Mississippi’s governor said he would not intervene at universities that had taken down the state flag.
The president of Delta State University, the final public university to abandon the state flag, bemoaned Mississippi’s failure to remove the Confederate imagery, calling it “a polarizing symbol that is a barrier to progress and improved understanding of our state, our university and our people.”
The proposed legislation is the latest development in a long controversy over the state flag.
Last year, the state legislature failed to pass several bills that would have removed the Confederate symbols, reported the Jackson Free Press. Gov. Bryant also named April Confederate Heritage Month.
That same month, the U.S. Capitol also decided to remove all state flags featuring Confederate emblems from a tunnel running to the House office building. In place of the Mississippi flag, the Capitol now displays the state’s commemorative coin.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.