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Feminist News


November-09-15

Protests Force U of MO President Out

University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe has resigned amid escalating protests and calls for him to step down after failing to address the issue of racism and racial intolerance on campus.

For months, black students at the University of Missouri have been protesting over matters of racial discrimination, citing that students felt unsafe on campus due to racial slurs and threats aimed towards black students.

During homecoming, the protesters blocked the president's vehicle during a parade, but unfortunately, Wolfe did not come out to address them and the police had to move them.

Seeing the lack of acknowledgement from the president, a black graduate student, Jonathan Butler, went on a hunger strike last week to bring awareness to the "slew of racist, sexist, homophobic" incidents on campus and Wolfe's lack of response to them.

Over the weekend, the protests picked up steam when 30 black football players announced they would not participate in football team activities, including games, until Wolfe resigned. A statement by the players revealed that the players would not tolerate any lack of action concerning threats or incidents of racism towards students. The boycott would have had significant economic repercussions for the school, including a $1 million fine if they do not play in this weekend's game versus Brigham Young University.

Students and members of the Concerned Student 1950, an organization named after the year in which the first black student was admitted to the university, also spearheaded today's walk out to demand Wolfe's resignation.

Several political leaders voiced their concern over the lack of action by the school authorities. U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D - MO) said it is essential for the Board of Curators to send a "clear message" to the student body on how they are committed to addressing racism on the campus. In a statement, Missouri State Representative Steven Cookson said that Wolfe "can no longer effectively lead" and he should leave his post.

Last month, the Feminist Majority Foundation, along with 72 local and national women's and civil rights groups, called on the U.S. Department of Education to issue new guidelines for colleges and universities to do more to protect students from harassment and threats based on sex, race, LGBT and disability status.

The groups are calling for the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to remind colleges and universities of their legal obligations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ensure campuses are not permitting a climate of hostility toward some students based on race, sex, ethnicity, and LGBT or disability status.

Media Resources: Washington Post 11/9/15, Kansas City Star 11/9/15; Huffington Post 11/8/15; Feminist Majority Foundation Press Release 10/20/15