University of Mississippi denies all photographers access to controversial student government meeting

MISSISSIPPI — Photographers had to leave their cameras at the door of a highly publicized and controversial student senate meeting at the University of Mississippi in October.Professional media from around the state and student journalists who had arrived to cover the meeting concerning banning the Confederate flag at Ole Miss sporting events were told they could come in, but their cameras could not.The student government office said the decision to ban cameras was made by the dean of students office, which reasoned that cameras would be a distraction during the meeting.The Mississippi open meetings laws states that the press can cover and record meetings of a public body as long as the recording does not interfere with the meeting.The student press at the university has decided not to take any legal action against the camera ban, but hopes some good will come out of the situation for journalists in the future, said Jenny Dodson, editor of the student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian.”I think it has raised [student government’s] level of awareness to realize there could be more problems with this type of banning than they expected,” Dodson said.Members of the student newspaper staff and student government were planning to meet to discuss a policy regarding future media access to meetings, said Stuart J. Bullion, professor and chairman of the journalism department.