Fraternity to suspend Ole Miss chapter
On Friday, the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity said it was "embarrassed" to learn the three suspects were members of its organization.
Not only would it expel the three students, the fraternity said, it was going to indefinitely suspend the whole Ole Miss chapter.
"For this to occur in 2014 is an insult to the legacy of James Meredith, The University of Mississippi community, and the SigEp alumni who fought for racial equality in the late 1950s," the fraternity said in a statement.
Students who spoke with CNN affiliate WMC shared similar sentiments:
"I just feel like whoever did that had to be completely ignorant to the impact that he had on this campus to deface school property and such a monumental statue like that," sophomore Raven Lyles said.
"I think it's absolutely terrible what they did," freshman John Choat said. "I think they should pay for it."
"To be honest, we haven't come as far as we think we've come," said another student, Bryston Tucker.
Tuohy: Isolated "stupidity" is to blame
A few well-known university alums weighed in on the furor. NFL star Michael Oher, who played for the Ole Miss Rebels and was made famous after his story inspired the movie "The Blind Side," took to Twitter on Monday to share his feelings.
"Can't believe they are still doing stuff like that at Ole Miss," he tweeted. "Really a shame!!"
Leigh Anne Tuohy, the Ole Miss alumna who adopted Oher after she and her husband took him into their home at the age of 16, said of the statue's defacing, "I tell people all the time, I wish there was a cure for cancer (and) heart disease, but more so stupidity."
However, she said, the university "has gotten pigeonholed ... as being a racist school, and that is anything but the truth."
"The truth of the matter is I had a black child at Ole Miss and a white child at Ole Miss," Tuohy said, "and it was a wonderful experience."
Shay Hodge, a former Rebels wide receiver and teammate of Oher, said "every school" has its racists. But Hodge, who also is African-American says he "always felt welcomed" at Ole Miss.
Racism "happens in every campus, in every high school, in every community," Hodge said. "Because it is not just white people towards blacks, it is blacks towards whites, whites towards Mexicans ..."