The Mississippi University for Women’s Office of Student Life and the Student Programming Board (SPB) will hold Charter Week to celebrate the anniversary of the legislation that created the school.
The Charter Week events, which will run Monday through Friday will commemorate the date (March 12, 1884) that the Mississippi State Legislature passed the charter founding the Industrial Institute and College (II&C), the first publicly funded college for women in America. The school’s first session began Oct. 22, 1885.
President Nora Miller, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from The W, will take part in two events during Charter Week, including a Magnolia Chain ceremony.
“I think there’s some pent up excitement about having events, particularly maskless events,” Miller said. “The anticipation of Spring Break (which is March 14-18) also will help spark excitement.”
Magnolia Chain has taken place in some form at The W since 1890. During this event, the magnolia chain was carried by seniors singing the “Magnolia Chain Song” from the front of Columbus Hall to Callaway lawn, where the ceremony was held. The student government president led the procession and carried a bouquet of daisies in honor of the graduates who began the ceremony years ago. Daisies were carried because the magnolia chain was originally made of daisies and other flowers.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the seniors formed a circle around the magnolia chain, locked arms and sung the “Friendship Circle” song. After the song was completed, the seniors made a mad dash for a magnolia blossom. Tradition holds that graduates who walk away with a magnolia blossom will find good fortune and romance.
This year’s Magnolia Chain Ceremony is a hybrid event incorporating elements of 100th Night and Magnolia Chain due to the uncertainty of how COVID trends affect the beginning and end of the semester when both events traditionally occur. Mea Ashley, director of Student Life, said the spirit and purpose of the tradition carry on despite how COVID has impacted the location and format of the event the past two years. Ashley said The W looks forward to returning to more traditional structures for graduation ceremonies in the future.
Ashley said a few years ago the SPB held a Spirit Week to instill school pride. She hopes the mixture of formal and informal events for The W students, faculty and staff in Charter Week will help accomplish the same goal.
“I think it’s important to understand our past and where we’ve come from to inform the future,” Ashley said. “While we deal with trying times, most recently with the pandemic, it’s important to note that it took the tenacity of people like Sallie Reneau (one of the founders of The W) to be where we are today. We should let that same tenacious spirit lead us for generations to come.”
The schedule for Charter Week is as follows:
- Monday: 11:30 a.m., Charter Week Luncheon, Bryan Green Gazebo Lawn. Campus Scavenger Hunt immediately following.
- Tuesday: 3 p.m., W Parade and Birthday Party, starting and ending at the Gazebo
- Wednesday: Noon, School Pride Photoshoot, W Room
- Thursday: 6 p.m., Magnolia Chain Ceremony, Rent Auditorium
- Friday: Digital presentation of what The W means to us.