Many stories in play behind U Missouri protests, football team boycott threat & president resignation

U Missouri Race Issues
Source: found at
ABC provides good framing for Pres. Wolfe’s resignation from University of Missouri: The Concerned Student 1950 campus group named for the year “the first black student was admitted” began a month-long series of protests that culminated in a list of demands calling for Wolfe’s removal…

.. as a part of a protest over the way the university handles racial harassment … (including a request) for a comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum, and an increase of black faculty and staff.

The backstories to the Mizzou uprisings are many: The school chancellor has also resigned. Graduate student Jonathan Butler 7 day hunger strike to bring awareness to the systemic racism on campus, was the immediate catalyst to the football players threat of a games boycott. And of course, Mizzou is in Missouri – just as Ferguson, MO is.

The students had support from powerful allies. Gov. Jay Nixon weighed in today, saying the students’ “concerns must be addressed.” And football coach Gary Pinkel tweeted a message of solidarity with his players, whose boycott threat was the straw that ultimately broke the trustees’ back and caused Wolfe’s resignation. Sports coaches are the highest paid personnel on any college campus and they wield tremendous power.

Mizzou Students Association VP Brenda Smith-Lezama shared her thoughts about student protests and how they are linked with events in Ferguson following Mike Brown’s death:

Well, I think that, for most students, there has been a shift post-Ferguson and going back to that year, year-and-a-half period, the activism on campus has been at an all-time high. I think that, for the first time, movements were being led in a very systematic and very intentional manner … prior to Ferguson and all the events that followed, there was obviously racial issues and there was a lot of issues of systematic oppression with itself. However, after Ferguson was — one, we were met with a lot of silence from our administration. And I think what is most frustrating, is that when students were crying out for help, our administration left us stranded.

ABC shares a list of recent racist events at the university that preceded the protests:

Alleged Racial Slurs
The protests began this semester after the school’s student government president, who is black, said he was called a racial slur on campus, according to The Associated Press. Members of the Legions of Black Collegians also said racial slurs were directed at them, the AP said.

Swastika Drawing
This semester a swastika drawn in feces was found in a dorm bathroom, the AP reported.

Homecoming Confrontation
During the school’s Oct. 10 homecoming parade, a protest group gathered around Wolfe’s car (to confront him, but he refused to get out of his car and talk to them).

Another story playing in the background is mentioned by Howard Bryant of ESPN in an NPR interview:

If the players wanted to push the envelope, I think that one thing that this day in Columbia showed was that they can shut the NCAA down if they want to. The players have far more power than I think they realize. And if they choose to use it, we’ll have a brand-new day here.

Check out Jonathan L. Butler’s Facebook page for additional excellent coverage.

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