- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 7, 2014

The University of Mississippi is asking school officials to use discretion when using the “Ole Miss” nickname in an academic setting, because it could be interpreted as racist.

A statement from the university said it will continue to use the nickname Ole Miss but should consider using it only in the context of athletics and school spirit, National Review Online reported.

“Ole Miss” was originally a phrase used by slaves when referring to a plantation owner’s wife or mistress. The university adopted the nickname stemming from a yearbook contest in 1897.

“UM’s longstanding nickname is beloved by the vast majority of its students and alumni,” the university said. “But a few, especially some university faculty, are uncomfortable with it. Some don’t want it used at all and some simply don’t want it used within the academic context.”

The university said it completed a national study on the name “Ole Miss” and found that “a significant margin” actually likes the name and only a very small percentage thinks it has racist undertones.

“Both names will be used in appropriate contexts going forward, with particular emphasis going to ‘Ole Miss’ in athletics and as a representation of the university’s spirit,” the school said.

The university is also renaming a street known as Confederate Drive and taking other measures to distance itself from its plantation-era past, the Associated Press reported.

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