There is no story. There is no controversy. If there has ever been a grass-roots effort regarding the establishment or disestablishment of a "tradition" this is it. The Student Body's resolution urging that minority of Ole Miss fans - mostly wide-eyed freshmen - who exercise their rights to so chant to not do so anymore for the good of the academic and athletic life of the university is not controversial. The band's unilateral decision to alter a few bars of the song so that the chant no longer flows rhythmically with the song is not controversial. The Chancellor's decision to publicly support the Associated Student Body and the band is not controversial.
There is no controversy. There is consensus.I was a freshman when Chancellor Khayat and Pete Boone decided to retire Colonel Reb as our on-the-field mascot, so I know what controversy looks like. Grown men - some graduates, but far more of our loyal, but uneducated, fanbase - threatened to withdraw support for Ole Miss. The student body staged an unofficial poll, the results of which were overwhelmingly in opposition to the Chancellor's decision. The conflict ran so deep that we still have no official on-the-field mascot and some grown man walks around - six years later - in a reasonable facsimile of the Colonel Reb garb.
This, my friends, was a controversy.
And what is there now with regard to "TSWRA," as it is colloquially abbreviated? Strong student support for the phrase to go down like the Cutcliffe adminstration in which it was born and the Orgeron administration in which it was fomented. If anything, the chant is most closely associated with a dreary period of Ole Miss football. We have band nerds - real, live Ole Miss obsessives of the highest order - voluntarily changing the rhythm of the song so that the phrase sounds out of place (as if it didn't already). And we have a Chancellor who has done what so many have often claimed is his role in tradition regulation - endorsing the decision of the students.
What we do not have is massive student resistance to the movement to send TSWRA to the dustbin of Ole Miss history. We do not have alumni - even a handful - calling the Lyceum to express their distaste in the decision. My word, we had far, far more outcry when after Elvis failed to make an appearance on the PoweTron - and that "tradition" only lasted half a season.
Practically no one is voicing opposition to this grass roots movement. The vast majority of those who are expressing an opinion agree that the chant is a black eye on the university and a distraction to the athletic program. You have read the same responses across blog and message board land that I have. And I have seen - from the perspective of a graduate student - mixtures of student apathy and support for the Chancellor. To say that strident proponents of the phrase are a "vocal minority" would give them too much credit. Dissent from the consensus - that we would all be better off if the phrase would just die - is muted, at best.
Only the Daily Mississippian and the Daily Journal think this this is a story. Only those removed from the student body see the controversy. Only outside observers find it incredible to believe that students at Ole Miss could be at the heart of something so non-traditional. Believe it.
I am going to stop talking about the chant. I will not comment here or anywhere else about it. If anyone wants to know what I think of it, I will tell them. But I will not further propagate the misconception that there exists two camps on this issue; that there is some conflict. There are not; there is not. There is a broad consensus that this chant should go away, and there is broad support for the students and administration who are cutting the grooves down the path to its non-existence. And, so, if anything more is said about TSWRA here ever again it will be too soon.