University of Missouri president steps down as racial lines divide campus

University of Missouri President Timothy Wolfe stepped down on Nov. 9 following months of racial tension on the campus.

The series of events leading up to Wolfe’s resignation might be considered disturbing to many people. A high-profile hunger strike, the MU football team strike and other non-violent protests have quickly run rampant in to many different threats on different groups of students and professors.

Amid the controversy, just hours after Wolfe resigned the chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin, announced his resignation as well. He told reporters that he would be advancing to a new role in research beginning in January.

A week before their resignations, a graduate student named Jonathan Butler began a hunger strike. Butler said he would not eat until President Wolfe stepped down. Loftin praised Butler calling him “a tough, tough man,” and also saying that they owed him a lot.

African-American students at Mizzou have complained of there being no action taken on the part of the leaders of the school when dealing with racism on the overwhelmingly white Columbia campus. Black student leaders have voiced their displeasure over students openly using racial slurs and other incidents. Several University of Missouri organizations, including the football team and the student association, had called for Wolfe to step down.

Until Nov. 9, he had presided over the university system, which includes the main University of Missouri campus in Columbia, along with the University of Missouri-St. Louis, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Wolfe said he takes “full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred.” He asked that the university community listen to each other’s problems and “stop intimidating each other.”

“This is not — I repeat, not — the way change should come about. Change comes from listening, learning, caring and conversation,” he said. “Use my resignation to heal and [to] start talking again.”

Wolfe also said his decision “came out of love, not hate,” and he urged the university to “focus on what we can change” in the future, not what’s happened in the past.

The tension made national media coverage when football players, both black and white, with their coach’s support, decided not to practice again until the president stepped down.

Following the resignation, social media blew up. The hashtags #ConcernedStudent1950, an organization on the campus, and #BlackOnCampus were used thousands of times and only continue to grow as the tension grows.

While the strikes are over and resignations are in place, racial lines are still drawn on the campus of The University of Missouri.

For information about UTM’s policies on discrimination visit the Office of Equity and Diversity online or in 303 Administration Building or contact Joe Henderson at 731-881-3505.

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