The Parthenon

University of Missouri seeks new leadership after poor handling of racial issues

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The University of Missouri president resigned Monday after a semester full of student protests and complaints of poorly addressed racial incidents on campus.

Protests were putting the university of 35,000 at a standing academic halt. Students began hunger strikes and students and faculty boycotted classes. The protests were heightened and gained attention when the university football team refused to play until the removal of Tim Wolfe, university president.

The university of Missouri student government officially called for Wolfe’s removal.  Along side him, R.  Bowen Loftin, chancellor of the university’s flagship in Columbia’ will also resign at the end of the year.

The university’s four campuses were under the responsibility of Wolfe. Wolfe had been the target of multiple protests including one black graduate student, Jonathan Butler, on a hunger strike for his removal.

Students said tensions across campus have increased since last year’s shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old by a white police officer in near by Ferguson. A campus group called Concerned Student 1950 banded together to achieve systematic support.

Accusations of Wolfe’s negligence of addressing racial and bigoted incidents include the student body president being called the n-word, an incident when a white student climbed onto stage and shouted slurs when a black group rehearsed a skit, and most recently when a swastika was drawn on a wall with human feces.

Monday’s Board of Curators meeting sought the announcement of Wolfe’s resignation. Wolfe said that he takes “full responsibility for the frustration” of students.

Donald Cupps, the board’s chair, expressed sympathy for Missouri students.

“It saddens me that some who have attended our university have ever felt fear, being unwelcome, or have experienced racism,” said Cupps. “To those who have suffered, I apologize on behalf of the university for being slow to respond to experiences that are unacceptable and offensive in our campus communities and in our society.”

After Wolfes resignation students began posting to social media about the notice. Butler posted to Twitter “This is only the first step! More change is to come!”

The university announced that administrator Hank Foley would act as interim chancellor at the end of the year and an appropriate interim president would be found soon.

Foley said that he wants “to make people feel included and make them feel that this is their campus.”

He said his next steps as chancellor include meeting with the members of Concerned Student 1950.

The university system said in a news release that it will appoint its first chief officer for diversity, inclusion and equity.

Ashley Sodosky can be contacted at [email protected]

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