Delta State University announced this week that it will no longer fly the Mississippi state flag, which includes the Confederate stars and bars in the top left corner.
Now, no public university in Mississippi hoists the state flag. Delta State University had been the last holdout, with Mississippi State University and Mississippi University for Women deciding to abandon the flag this summer.
Delta State University’s president, William LaForge, said in a statement that the university made the decision after Misssissippi’s government neglected to change the state flag. The stars and bars on it, he said, “present a polarizing symbol that is a barrier to progress and improved understanding of our state, our university and our people.”
“This is a painful decision in many respects because this is a highly charged emotional issue for many people,” La Forge said. “The university finds itself in the untenable position of making a decision that will disappoint some, no matter the outcome. But in the absence of state action, we are making a decision that I believe is right and just on all levels.”
Earlier this year, Mississippi’s governor, Phil Bryant, said that although he would not intervene in universities’ day-to-day operations, he believed voters should ultimately decide what the state flag included. The governor’s spokesman did not respond to Heat Street’s request for a comment about Delta State’s decision.
There may also be legal issues with ditching the flag, the Clarion Ledger reported in August. Mississippi law requires the state flag to be “displayed in close proximity to the school building” during the day, though it’s unclear whether that statute applies to universities or just K-12 schools.