Brendan Cahill, Contributing Writer
This week the University of Missouri made headlines when racial tension reached the boiling point as students and faculty alike began protesting the way administrators handled issues of racism on campus. Although the bulk of the protests have been going on for about a week, the University of Missouri has already been greatly impacted and other schools across the country are having similar movements occur on their campuses.
University of Missouri has always been troubled by issues of racism, but in the last few years, thanks mainly to the Internet, these issues and the inaction by administrators, have been put in the spotlight. Just to list a few examples, in 2010 two white students were arrested for placing large clusters of cotton balls in front of the Black Culture Center, in 2011 racist graffiti was tagged in dormitories, and in September of this year the student body president, Payton Head, made a Facebook post describing an event where white males in a pickup truck yelled racial slurs at him as they drove by. The latter resulted in small protests but the catalyst that brought more fire to the movement was the smearing of feces into a swastika on the wall of a bathroom in a residence hall.
Aside from the obvious anger that comes with having to deal with racism in a place that is supposed to be a safe environment, the inaction of top administrators is what led to the protests being as big as they have become. On November 3, Johnathan Butler, a graduate student at Mizzou, announced he was going on a hunger strike until the president of the University, Tim Wolfe, was fired or resigned. Butler pointed to the fact that very little had been done by Wolfe to combat the racism on campus to help move the university forward. On November 7, 32 black football players announced they would not play or practice until Wolfe resigned. This caused the school to panic as it could have set the university back millions of dollars if the team did not play in thier next game against Brigham Young University. The same day, Wolfe stated that he would not step down but the following day he announced his resignation. Also, the Chancellor of the University, R. Bowen Loftin, announced he would step down once the year ended.
Unfortunately, the response of students attempting to better their campus has not been perceived positively by everyone. Threats have been made against African Americans and to the campus. Connor Stottlemyre, 19-year-old student at Northwest Missouri State University, was arrested after allegedly posting to Yik Yak, “I’m going to shoot any black people tomorrow, so be ready.” Donald Trump chimed in on the issue as well, “I think the two people that resigned are weak, ineffective people. I think that when they resigned they set something in motion that’s going to be a disaster for a long period of time.”
It does appear that progress is being made in small strides. Similar protests have popped up at Ithaca College, Yale University, and Smith College. Nothing will be solved overnight but if enough noise is made, and enough people are willing to listen, great improvements could be made to better universities across the country.
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