This year at University of Missouri at Columbia (MU) has been and continues to be one to make history. Students at MU have been protesting against a series of injustices and the administration and leadership’s apparent lack of action to deal with these issues. MU’s student-run publication, “The Maneater,” has compiled these happenings in a timeline, which is a must-read if you want to learn how these events have progressed. The complaints from the students include the University cutting health care for graduate students, access to Planned Parenthood’s medical services and several instances of racism against black students on campus.
The central issue began when the Missouri Student Association president posted about racial slurs that had been used against him on Facebook. This post went viral and, yet, it took the administration almost a week to respond. This led to the first of a series of rallies, starting Sept. 24 focused on the topic of “Racism Lives Here.” This rally was quickly followed by a second Oct. 1, attempting to show the administration that action was needed and needed quickly. These feelings heightened after a drunken individual used more racial slurs against the Legion of Black Collegians’ Homecoming court Oct. 5. The next day students and faculty held a sit-in to draw attention to racism on campus and the administration’s slow movement to make changes. Finally Oct. 8, MU revealed that they would be requiring a diversity and inclusion training for all students, staff, and faculty.
However, this did not offer any changes or acknowlegdement of the systemic problems happening on the campus. At this point, students called for the resignation of the University of Missouri System’s President Tim Wolfe. During the MU’s Homecoming Parade Oct. 10, a group of black students halted the parade and Wolfe’s vehicle by linking arms and standing in the middle of the road.
After ten minutes of harassment from the largely white crowd, some of the crowd formed a chain to protect Wolfe, while some individuals joined the students, whose shirts read “1839 Was Built on My B(l)ack.” The police broke up the protest, by forcing the students out of the street.
On Oct. 20, a student group named Concerned Student 1950, a reference to the first black student admitted to MU, issued a list of thirteen demands from MU’s leadership, including an apology from and the resignation of Wolfe. After an meeting with Wolfe, Concerned Student 1950 leader, Jonathan Butler, began a hunger strike Nov. 2 to encourage Wolfe’s removal. Three days later, Concerned Student 1950 led a walkout through Mizzou’s campus; participants included students, faculty and staff of the University.
The next day, on a visit to University of Missouri–Kansas City’s campus, Wolfe said, “systemic oppression is because you don’t believe that you have the equal opportunity to success,” further angering students. In response, the Mizzou football team announced that they would go on strike until Wolfe resigns.
On Nov. 9, Wolfe announced his resignation, quickly followed by Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announcing that he will be resigning at the end of the year. The same day Concerned Student 1950 issued a new list of demands and Butler ended his hunger strike. However, on Thursday, Nov. 12, the Board of Curators announced that Loftin would be immediately transferred to a different position and replaced with interim chancellor Hank Foley.
On Nov. 11 in reaction to a series threats on the social media app Yik Yak, the MUPD arrested Hunter M. Park, a Missouri Science & Technology student on charges of making a terrorist threat.
On Thursday Nov. 12, Michael Middleton, an MU deputy chancellor emeritus, was named by the Board of Curators interim president of the university system.
“The time has come for us to acknowledge and address our daunting challenges, and return to our relentless adherence to the University of Missouri’s mission to discover, disseminate, preserve and apply knowledge,” said Middleton.