Why students at this iconic Southern school want their state flag removed.

With the eyes of the country on them, student senators at the University of Mississippi attended an important vote on Oct. 20, 2015.

Photo via iStock.


The verdict? They want the Mississippi state flag, which incorporates the controversial blue cross and stars of the Confederate flag into its design, off their campus.

In a 33-15 vote (with one vote abstained), the Associated Student Body Senate concluded that a symbol many believe to be undeniably racist is something, you know, they don't want tied to their school's image, according to CNN.

Now the senate will pass the resolution on to the school's administration to decide about whether they'll officially act or not.

This is a big deal. Not just because it's a large and influential university in the South, but because we're talking about the University of Mississippi.

Ole Miss, people.


Southern pride runs deep at Ole Miss (to put it lightly). And many inextricably tie that pride to the Confederate flag.

Near the same flag many students want removed is a monument honoring Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. Ole Miss is the hallmark public university of a state that, in 2001, voted overwhelmingly to keep its flag exactly as is — blue cross and stars included.

And the school's mascot? Literally the Rebels (up until 2003, you could spot Colonel Reb rousing fans at Vaught–Hemingway Stadium).


Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images.

Just bringing up the idea of removing the flag — the student government's vote was a first in "recent history," a spokesperson for the school told The Huffington Post — is newsworthy. So a heavy majority of student senators actually backing the removal? Again, really big.

“I think it shows that we as a student body recognize that these symbols of white supremacy have no place on our campus," student senator Allen Coon told The Washington Post. “They affect people that are marginalized. They make students feel excluded on their own campus, and they promote ideals of hate and racial oppression."

As you may have expected, the vote has already brought a wave of unhappy folks along with it.

A Change.org petition has cropped up to "keep the flag of the state of Mississippi flying at the University of Mississippi" in the vote's aftermath, started by student senator Andrew Soper.

Clearly, he's not having it with his peers' decision.

"In order to live in a free society, the possibility to be offended will occasionally occur," reads the petition, which also encourages Mississippians to push back [against] political correctness. "Removing symbols, flags, and monuments will do nothing to change the way people feel in their hearts."

The Mississippi state flag hanging among the others near the Senate subway in Washington, D.C. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

As of Oct. 21, 2015, the petition had also garnered more than 200 supporters. And at a rally promoting the removal of the flag last week, flag supporters — and even some members of the Ku Klux Klan — showed up to voice their (unashamedly racist) opinions, too — loud and clear.

Still, the fact that the student senators want to turn a corner — albeit a largely symbolic one — is important.

For student leaders to take this step at a school where riots infamously broke out after its first black student was admitted five decades ago is a momentous sign of progress that should be celebrated well beyond the Deep South.

"This decision is not an act of defiance towards our great state," student body executive officers said in a statement, "but a genuine call-to-action in response to the cries of those who have been negatively impacted by such a symbol, individuals in which we share our classrooms, our workplaces, our relationships, and our friendships."

Update (Oct. 27, 2015): The University of Mississippi removed its state flag from campus on Oct. 26, 2015, The New York Times reported.

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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

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Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

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Welp, the two skateboarding events added to the Olympics this year have wrapped up for the women's teams, and the results are historic in more ways than one.

Japan's Kokona Hiraki, age 12, just won the silver medal in women's park skateboarding, making her Japan's youngest Olympic medalist ever. Great Britain's Sky Brown, who was 12 when she qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and is now 13, won the bronze, making her Great Britain's youngest medalist ever. And those two medal wins mean that two-thirds of the six medalists in the two women's skateboarding events are age 13 or younger. (The gold and silver medalists in women's street skateboarding, Japan's Momiji Nishiya and Brazil's Rayssa Leal, are also 13.)

That's mind-blowing.

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