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Missouri student protest results in president’s resignation

November 19th, 2015

 

A wave of student protests in response to alleged racism at the University of Missouri led to the resignation of university’s president, Timothy M. Wolfe, and chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin on Nov. 9.

 

The announcement comes after months of racial tension on campus. The university has experienced many instances of racial discrimination, including racial insults directed at the black student body president, Payton Head and the Legion of Black Collegians. The racial hatred continued when human feces were used to draw a swastika on a dorm-room wall, according to U.S. News.

 

The demonstrations from the student protest group ConcernedStudent1950 aimed at Wolfe’s resignation became stronger when graduate student Jonathan Butler started a hunger strike on Monday, Nov. 2. More pressure for change was put on the university president when the players of the university’s football team announced on Nov. 8 to go on a strike until Wolfe was removed from office, according to The Washington Post.

 

Wolfe’s resignation, which followed the next day, was mostly sparked by the team’s threat. The Washington Post stated a cancellation of the next football game would result in a $1 million fine for the school, because of a contract between the school’s team, the Missouri Tigers, and the school they were scheduled to play, the Brigham Young Cougars.

 

In his resignation speech, Wolfe said he takes “Full responsibility for inaction that has occurred.” He continued to state that his decision to resign “Comes out of love, not hate,” and that he truly loves the school and everybody in it. On the same day, Butler let everyone know that his hunger strike was officially over, but stated that “This is only the first step.” The removal of Wolfe is just one of the demands on ConcernedStudent1950’s list. The group demands multiple changes. The demands include hiring more black employees and adding racial awareness courses to the core curriculum.

Jonathan Butler

Despite reaching his goal, the student group did not welcome all the media coverage that occurred. This was made public, when a video of a student photographer named Tim Tai circulated on the Internet. The video showed Tai trying to take pictures of the scene and several protesters continually telling him to “back off.” The video also showed Tai referring back to his first amendment right to be there. Faculty even got involved, as video shows Melissa Click, an associate professor of mass media at the university, yelling “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.”

 

ConcernedStudent1950’s Twitter account spoke up about the incident stating, “If you have a problem with us wanting to have our spaces that we have created, leave!” They continued to state that “We truly appreciate having our story told, but this movement isn’t for you.”

 

Tai also made a statement on his Twitter account saying, “I don’t have any ill will toward the people in the video. I think they had good intentions though I’m not sure why it resorted to shoving.”

 

According to The New York Times, the professor cut her ties with the university’s journalism school the next day.

 

Editor’s Note: Information from The New York Times, The Washington Post and US News & World Report was used for this report.