Nov 23, 2015
University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin resigned in response to student protests demanding Wolfe step down.
The protests followed a series of racist incidents that occurred on the university’s campus. In September, the student government president had racist slurs shouted at him by a passing pickup. A few weeks later, a drunken student hurled similar insults at members of a black student organization. Someone drew a swastika in human feces in a dormitory bathroom.
Students complained that Wolfe took little action in response to their complaints. One student, Jonathon Butler, went on a hunger strike demanding Wolfe’s resignation.
The tipping point came when members of the Missouri football team refused to practice and threatened to boycott the team’s next game. The athletes said in a statement, “The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere.’ We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experience. WE ARE UNITED!”
Cancellation of the game would have cost the university at least a million dollars due to an agreement with the team’s opponent in the game, Brigham Young University. The University, which couldn’t be bothered to deal with racism, wasn’t about to lose big sports money.
It is unusual for student athletes to take such an outspoken political stance. They usually enjoy a somewhat privileged position on a college campus – so long as they “go along with the program.”
But the University of Missouri is only two hours away from Ferguson, where people still renew their protest. And maybe that counted with the students.