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The University of Mississippi Police Department quietly lowered the state flag early Monday from its position atop a flagpole in the center of campus, removing a symbol that students and faculty have decried as divisive because it features the Confederate battle emblem.

“The University of Mississippi community came to the realization years ago that the Confederate battle flag did not represent many of our core values, such as civility and respect for others,” Morris Stocks, the university's interim chancellor, said in a statement. “Since that time, we have become a stronger and better university. We join other leaders in our state who are calling for a change in the state flag.”

The decision followed months of protest on campus. Last week, Mississippi's Associated Student Senate, the Faculty Senate, the Graduate Student Council and the Staff Council all passed measures requesting that the university remove the flag. The flag will be stored in the university's archives, along with the resolutions that called for its removal.

The state is currently debating changing the flag's design following the racially motivated massacre of nine members of a black church in Charleston, S.C. The shooting led to many colleges and universities removing the battle emblem and other Confederate symbols from campuses.