Rallies, racism and resignations
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Rallies, racism and resignations

President of University of Missouri resigns to allow healing on a racially wounded campus

Timothy Wolfe steps down amidst protest from students who claim he mishandled racial issues on campus.

Timothy Wolfe steps down amidst protest from students who claim he mishandled racial issues on campus.

By Julia Camara| Echo

Student protesters at the University of Missouri cheered as their president resigned from his position on Monday due to claims of his insufficient dealings with campus racism and other bigoted incidents.

“I have thought and prayed about this decision and it’s the right thing to do,” President Tim Wolfe said in his address to the university, as reported by The Washington Post. “Use my resignation to heal and start talking again to make the changes necessary.”

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, overseer of the Columbia, Missouri campus, will also resign from his position.

In the past few weeks MU students began protesting on campus for the resignation of their president as they believed he failed to sufficiently address the continual acts of racism and discrimination on campus, according to the Washington Post. The incidents sparking the protest include the undergraduate student body president being called the n-word, a white student interrupting a skit by black students with racist slurs and the appearance of a swastika drawn with human feces on a bathroom wall.

The removal of two university administrators is the result of prolonged racial tension at MU, reaching back to the 2014 shooting in Ferguson, when a police officer shot and killed a black man. The Washington Post reported that in Columbia, while the MU community became increasingly concerned about how minorities were treated, Wolfe remained inactive and disengaged.

Graduate student Jonathan Butler, a participant in the Ferguson protests, drew much attention to the race issue with an open letter to MU saying he would go on a hunger-strike until the

president was removed from office or until Butler’s organs failed, reported The New York Times.

“Let it be known I have no ill will or thoughts of harm toward Mr. Wolfe. But I do have urgency to make the campus I call home a more safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for all identities and backgrounds,” he wrote as reported by Themaneater.

The graduate student initiated rapid reaction on college campuses nationwide, unveiling stories of racial prejudice and discrimination. The president of Yale University said last week that MU had “failed” its minority students, according to the Washington Post. Word of the MU protests spread quickly with the use of a hashtag called #concernedstudents1950, referring to the year when the first black student enrolled at MU.

University faculty and staff  joined in the protest by canceling classes, while a petition displaying 7,000 signatures called for the president to resign. Perhaps the greatest impact on the protest, gaining nationwide recognition, was the MU football team choosing to boycott last Saturday’s game. Their decision, which was  supported by their coach, had a considerable effect on the spread of the protesters’ message.

According to the Washington Post Missouri Governor Jay Nixon was in favor of his removal, calling it a necessary step toward healing.

The first act of change on the MU campus following the president’s resignation was a statement from the board, declaring a new initiative to address racial tension on campus. The Missouri board of Curators solemnly vowed to initiate change, including a new position of chief diversity inclusion and equity officer.

An interim chancellor and president will be announced as soon as possible.

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