/MU president steps down amid racial tension

MU president steps down amid racial tension

A protestor is part of a wall that Concerned Student 1950 created to block the media from entering the camp during the Concerned Student 1950 protest on Monday, Nov. 9 2015, in Columbia, Mo. Concerned Student 1950 is a group named after the first year that black students were allowed to attend MU. Photo by Michael Cali for the San Diego Union-Tribune, TNS.

Tensions continue to run high at the University of Missouri following the resignations of the school’s president and chancellor on Monday, Nov. 9.

MU students agree that everything began with a number of incidents involving racial slurs being thrown at black students. This started with Student Government President Payton Head, who made a Facebook post detailing his experience being called the n-word by several white males in a passing truck.

President Tim Wolfe received many complaints from students of the Columbia, Missouri campus. Wolfe remained indifferent to reports of these racial slurs and a swastika drawn with feces in a dorm bathroom.

In October, a protest group called Concerned Student 1950 confronted President Wolfe while blocking his car in a homecoming parade. Wolfe refused to acknowledge them and some claim that the car he was riding in nicked one of the students as it drove away.

Protesters later caught up with Wolfe and asked for his opinion on systematic oppression.

“Systematic oppression is because you don’t believe that you have the equal opportunity for success,” he answered as protesters passionately disagreed.

`Outrage spread throughout the school as Wolfe continued to ignore the racial incidents. To protest, students camped out in tents all over campus. Graduate student Jonathan Butler went on a hunger strike and soon weakened from lack of food.

At least 30 MU football players stepped forward and pledged not to play until Wolfe resigned. According to their coach, Gary Pinkel, a lot of them were concerned for Butler’s life. Even though canceling the game against Brigham Young University would cost the school $1 million, they had his full support.

Pinkel recently announced that he will be resigning at the end of the season due to health reasons.

It was the football team’s refusal to play that truly tipped the scales in the MU controversy. The story then gained national attention, and Wolfe had no choice but to step down. He announced his resignation the morning of Nov. 9. By the afternoon, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin had done the same.

“I take full responsibility for this frustration, and I take full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred,” Wolfe said after a meeting of the University Board of Curators. “Please use my resignation to heal, not to hate.”

Retired administrator Michael Middleton was appointed interim president for the university afterwards. Loftin was originally going to remain chancellor until the end of the year but instead took a different university position and was replaced by Hank Foley.

Threats toward black students have appeared on the anonymous social media app, Yik Yak.

Hunter M. Park, a sophomore at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, is one of three people arrested for making terroristic threats targeting the Columbia campus on various social media outlets.

Due to these recent events, numerous black and minority students at MU are staying away from the campus and have expressed that they do not feel safe or respected there. Middleton says he understands their frustrations but hopes that everyone at MU can remain optimistic about the future.

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